Q&A: How Could Diabetes Affect My Fertility?

I have diabetes — could this impact my fertility?
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ByDr. Nicole Browne
Fertility Specialist
Updated
Mar 2017
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It’s true, diabetes can affect fertility — in women and men. Here’s why: In women, there’s an association with diabetes and insulin-related causes of infertility like polycystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS) and obesity. The hyperinsulinemia associated with PCOS and obesity is thought to increase functional androgen levels in these women which in turn can cause follicular arrest (i.e. anovulation) and can adversely affect egg quality. Sometimes, just by correcting the hyperinsulinemia associated with these conditions pregnancy can be achieved.

In men, diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathies (in other words, nerve damage) that can lead to retrograde ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. But these disorders can be treated — sometimes with medications or sometimes through assisted reproductive technologies.

If you’re diabetic and comtemplating pregnancy, you should make sure that your blood sugar levels are well-controlled through diet, exercise, and/or medications, and seek early preconceptional counseling.

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