Why Women With Diabetes Have Lower Fertility Levels

Mar 05, 2018

A diagnosis of diabetes is bad enough when you are in your 20s or 30s because of its impact on quality of life and the constant risk of complications. Unfortunately, it can be even more distressing to young women who plan to have children as diabetes is also associated with lower levels of fertility. While this can be incredibly stressful to most women and it is true that the risks cannot be ignored, the threat to pregnancy and fertility is not as bad as it seems. Diabetic women can have healthy pregnancies and be great mothers; you simply need to take certain precautions.

How Diabetes Affects A Woman’s Fertility

There is no direct link between diabetes and infertility but that does not mean that having diabetes will not affect your fertility levels. This is because diabetes increases the risk of conditions that are linked to lower fertility in women. Here’s how diabetes affects fertility levels in women. 

Diabetes Exacerbates The Effects Of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Diabetes does not cause PCOS but the two conditions are closely linked as they are connected to abnormal hormone and insulin levels. Studies show that women who have diabetes suffer from more severe PCOS symptoms, including a higher risk of infertility. This link is of particular importance as PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.

Diabetes Is Linked To Irregular Or Absent Periods  

Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes have been linked to irregular (secondary amenorrhea) or absent (oligomenorrhea) periods. Diabetes affects the levels of insulin and various other hormones that impact the menstrual cycle. Irregular or absent periods lower female fertility levels. It is important to discuss diabetes and fertility problems including changes in your menstrual cycle with your gynaecologist to rule out the possibility of other, more serious health complications. 

Diabetes Increases The Chances Of Premature menopause

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder which accelerates reproductive aging. This increases the risk of premature menopause and would affect a woman’s fertility levels. Furthermore, diabetes and early menopause have a synergestic effect and increase a woman’s risk of heart diseases.

Stabilizing Blood Sugar Levels Can Improve Fertility

The effective management of blood sugar levels is crucial to improving infertility treatments and the chances of a successful pregnancy. Both high and low blood sugar levels are known to have a detrimental effect on fertility and conception.

Blood sugar levels are raised by glucose, which is a form of sugar that we ingest from a wide range of foods containing carbs. However, in addition to carbohydrate intake, there are other factors that also influence blood sugar levels. Most notable of these is stress, as it causes an elevation of cortisol levels. This stress hormone influences the manner in which insulin is utilized. In addition, meal timings also have an impact on regulation of blood sugar levels.

To stabilize blood sugar levels and improve fertility rates, you will need to use a combination of techniques.

  • The first involves eating a more balanced diet that is low in processed foods, as most processed and refined foods are high in simple carbs that cause rapid spikes in blood sugar.
  • Increasing your levels of physical activity to include mild to moderate exercises on a daily basis.
  • Lowering stress levels and improving the quality of sleep by making minor lifestyle changes, such as taking up meditation, restricting digital screen usage, and so forth.

All of this information has probably left you feeling a little overwhelmed, but it’s vital that as a diabetic you stay well informed, rather than worried. Although the risks of female infertility in women are very real, making meaningful changes to your lifestyle and strategies for diabetes management can greatly improve pregnancy outcomes. In addition to controlling blood sugar levels, also make it a point to work closely with your endocrinologist and obstetrician. Remember, that if all else fails and you cannot conceive naturally, with IVF treatment, you can still have your own child. Discuss diabetes and IVF treatment procedures with your fertility doctor during your next visit to get a better understanding of your treatment options.

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