One of the biggest factors in infertility issues in both men and women is diabetes. However, there is effective treatment for both men and women.
Fertility issues are believed to be present when a couple has not been able to conceive after having unprotected sex on a regular basis for a year. If the woman is over the age of 40, infertility is an issue when conception has not occurred after six months of regular unprotected sex. According to the National Institute of Health, in the United States, around nine percent of men and 11 percent of women of reproductive age have experienced problems with fertility.
Infertility in Diabetic Men
Men who are diabetic generally have higher levels of blood sugar, also known as glucose. Glucose is controlled by insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. Individuals who are diabetic produce very low amounts of insulin or none at all. As a result, blood sugar levels increase. The sugars then transfer into the bladder. Diabetes causes infertility in men in the following ways:
• Affects small blood vessels and lowers testosterone levels, which leads to erectile dysfunction
• Lowers sex drive by lowering the levels of testosterone
• Reduces the volume of the ejaculate or prevents ejaculation altogether as the nerves’ sensitivity that control it are decreased, as are the levels of testosterone
• Retrograde ejaculation, in which part or all semen of an ejaculation goes into the bladder instead of out the tip of the penis.
Diabetic men can receive infertility treatment through fairly easy remedies in the form of oral medication, natural approaches or lifestyle changes. Some treatment options include:
• Medications for erectile dysfunction, which can restore erections
• Selective estrogen-receptor modules or natural herbal supplements, which can increase sex drive and testosterone levels
• Over-the-counter cold medications (alpha agonists) can, in some circumstances, help restore the normal direction of ejaculation flow so that it empties from the penis instead of into the bladder
• Healthy lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, exercise and stress reduction to naturally balance insulin levels and promote the health of the body
Infertility in Women with Diabetes
Men are not alone when it comes to fertility risks due to diabetes. Women who are diabetic have a greater risk of fertility problems that can lead to more difficulty when they are trying to get pregnant. The following health conditions can occur in diabetic women:
• Endometrial Cancer:
Also known as uterine cancer, this disease is more common in diabetic women, especially when they also suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Infertility can occur if the cancer isn’t diagnosed and treated early enough.
• Microvascular and Cardiovascular Complications:
Diabetic women are more likely to suffer from microvascular and cardiovascular complications, such as neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy. These complications can reduce fertility.
• Oligomenorrhea and Secondary Amenorrhea:
Oligomenorrhea is a condition that results in irregular menstrual periods. Periods that come every 35 days or longer are considered irregular. Secondary amenorrhea is a condition characterized by the absence of periods for six months or more after previously-regular menstrual cycles. Women who are diabetic have a greater risk of developing each of these conditions.
This is a common medical condition that results in the development of cysts in the ovaries. Although it carries no health risk, it can reduce fertility. Women with PCOS also have higher levels of testosterone and a higher risk of irregular periods (oligomenorrhea) or absent periods (secondary amenorrhea). Changes in lifestyle or, in some cases, prescribed medications can help so that the woman can have a greater chance of conceiving. PCOS frequently occurs in diabetic women and in those who are obese. Increasing prescribed amounts of insulin on a daily basis can also increase one’s risk for the condition.
• Premature Menopause:
Also known as premature ovarian failure, this condition occurs when women younger than 40 stop getting menstrual periods or they occur only irregularly, since the ovaries already begin to stop their function at this time. Diabetic women are at greater risk of this medical condition.
Diabetic women are also at a greater risk of suffering a miscarriage. However, there is treatment available. Metformin, dietary and exercise changes, and proper nutritional supplements in particular, can help to treat the problem of PCOS. Other forms of treatment that can help increase the chances of conception include artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Although diabetes in both men and women can, in some cases, affect fertility rates and increase the struggle of conceiving, the problem can be overcome with diagnosis and proper treatments.