Can diabetes cause infertility?


According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects as many as 23 million Americans and presents significant side effects if poorly managed. Infertility is one of them. Diabetes and insulin-related infertility are very common, according to Dr. Tommaso Falcone of the Cleveland Clinic's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Infertility is the inability to become pregnant within 12 months of trying and affects about 10% of the population. No group is immune to infertility. Because infertility knows no boundaries, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know may be coping with it. In most instances, simple lifestyle changes like weight loss, can help reverse the effects of infertility. However, diseases like diabetes can cause extra complications.

Erectitle dysfunction and retrograde ejaculation

Poorly managed diabetes can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels which can interfere with blood flow to the penis. Cardiovascular disease can contribute to the same effect. Additionally, high levels of blood glucose can eventually interfere with blood flow to the penis. If nerve damage to the urethra has occurred because of diabetes, during ejaculation semen may be forced into the bladder rather than reaching the female reproductive system.

DNA damage

Until 2008 researchers thought sperm quality for unaffected by diabetes. Dr. Con Mallidis at Queen’s University showed that there is evidence that high levels of blood glucose can result in accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which damage sperm’s DNA. This is a condition associated with miscarriage.


High levels of blood glucose can exacerbate the most common disease associated with female infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition is associated with high levels of androgens that result in irregular or missed periods an ovarian cysts, conditions that affect fertility.

Source: ADA, Dr. Tommaso Falcone


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