Diabetes and Fertility


Diabetes can be a challenging condition to live with. Being a healthy person with diabetes means that you have to make careful choices. Diabetes hinders a body’s ability to process and metabolize sugars. Diabetics need to watch their sugar levels and insulin levels very carefully. Often, people with diabetes need to test their blood sugar levels once or more per day in order to know whether they are metabolizing sugar properly. If the blood sugar level is too high, the person needs a shot of insulin; if the sugar level is too low, the person needs some carbohydrates.

In general, the best diet for people living with diabetes is one that is low in carbohydrates, since the body has difficulty processing them, and high in protein and fat, since they take much longer to digest and also help digest the sugars in carbs. Eating regularly, helps maintain stable blood sugars, as does regular light exercise. A large part of healthy living as a diabetic involves proactive health choices.

There are many things that a diabetic cannot do like a person without diabetes can. Fortunately, conceiving and carrying a child does not fall into that category. A woman with diabetes can likely conceive just as easily as a woman without diabetes, as long as she takes precautions and talks to her doctor before trying to conceive.

A woman with Type 1 diabetes will likely need to modify her insulin routine. She will likely not be able to go without insulin, and it would be unsafe for her to do so, but after she becomes pregnant her insulin needs will likely increase and she will need to monitor her blood sugar levels even more closely.

Type 2 diabetics may try to go off insulin through careful diet and exercise in order to improve chances of conception.

A man with diabetes will also need to control his blood sugar levels as well, in order to maintain healthy sperm levels and motility, and to avoid genetic abnormalities. It is important to avoid smoking or drinking alcohol if a person is diabetic.

There are risks of uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy as well. If a woman’s blood sugar levels are not well managed, there are risks to the baby and the new mom. One of the main risks is pre-eclampsia: high blood pressure and a high risk of preterm labor or stress on the baby. Preterm labor carries with it a host of other risks such as a NICU stay for baby, underdeveloped heart or lungs, and challenges with breastfeeding.

Women with uncontrolled diabetes also risk having a very large baby, again risking preterm labor or C-section delivery if the doctors feel that the baby is too large to be delivered vaginally. Variable blood sugar levels may prevent the baby from getting adequate nutrition from the mother’s blood through the placenta.

So, on the whole, diabetes should not interfere with a woman or man living a normal, healthy life and being able to conceive and raise children, as long as the person is aware of the risks and appropriate precautions to take.

Factors in Conception

For some people, conceiving a child is as simple as going off birth control, and “just seeing what happens.” There are people who get pregnant within one or two cycles. For others, it takes longer and can be stressful and confusing. Once several cycles have come and gone, the couple may be feeling discouraged and frustrated, like something might be wrong with one or both of them.

There are several factors in the process of procreation, and it may be helpful to examine them so that a person can be realistic about his or her timeline for conception. Some factors can be changed or altered; other factors are unalterable.

Age: This is one of the main factors when it comes to a couple’s ability to conceive. Men’s fertility remains fairly stable from puberty until they die, but women have a fertile window over the course of their lives. They are very fertile in their late teens and twenties. A woman’s fertility declines significantly when she hits 30 years old, and declines again at 35. At 40 years old, the odds are against a woman being able to conceive, and it is almost impossible by 45. The general advice is that the best window for a woman to conceive is between 25 and 35 years old—during that time, her life and career are relatively stable and her body is still fertile and strong, and she has the emotional and physical energy for raising small children. If you are outside that window, you may still be able to conceive a child, but it might be helpful for you to accept the reality of where you are in your life.

Weight: If either partner is over- or underweight, the couple’s fertility may be reduced. It is important that both people keep their weight at a healthy level in order to produce healthy sex cells (sperm and egg) and to maintain healthy hormone balance.

Diet: You can change this factor the most easily. Both partners would do best to eat a diet rich in high-quality fats and proteins. Make sure to focus on unprocessed whole foods. If possible, try to find foods that are either flash-frozen, or that are local, as these will have the highest concentration of quality nutrients.

Health: Both partners’ fertility levels benefit from overall good health. Exercise, diet, and mental and emotional well-being are all helpful in order to create the ideal opportunity for procreation. Make sure you exercise every day; even a walk around the block can be immensely helpful to your physical well-being. Your body will likely only be fertile when your body is healthy; we as humans have evolved to only be able to procreate when we are not in danger. If your body is stressed or in poor health, your fertility will suffer.

It is helpful to start trying to conceive knowing your odds of success so you can be realistic with your expectations. That said, the best advice is to keep yourself as healthy as you can in order to have the best success in conceiving.

All About Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is something that has been practiced for hundreds of years. Insemination simply refers to sperm entering the vagina, so artificial insemination means that the sperm is introduced into the vagina through artificial means. Believe it or not, artificial insemination is not only practiced in humans: it is a common practice in cattle breeding. Bull semen is collected in an “artificial vagina,”  and is introduced into the cow’s vagina in order to produce calves. This is much easier for cattle breeders to selectively breed for certain traits, as well as to avoid intermixing the bull with the cows (as bulls are known to be incredibly volatile creatures, and can get extremely violent around females).

How is it done? Semen is collected from the male, and then a fertility technician examines the sperm. He chooses the best, most healthy sperm and cleans them, then inserts them into the vagina using a needleless syringe, or potentially a syringe with a tube attached to it, in order to insert the sperm farther into the vagina. The sperm need to be cleaned because without the act of sexual intercourse and the accompanying semen, the woman`s body would likely have an allergic reaction to the sperm and would reject them.

Artificial insemination can be a huge help to couples who are having a hard time conceiving. There are a few causes of infertility for which artificial insemination can be quite helpful. The first cause is if there are issues with the male partner’s sperm count or sperm motility. Obviously, inserting the sperm far into the vagina would help combat that as a cause for infertility. It can also be helpful if the man has issues with ejaculation, such as retrograde ejaculation (where the semen is ejaculated into the man’s urinary bladder rather than through his penis). The next cause is an issue with the woman`s cervix being inhospitable to semen during sex, or preventing the semen from getting through into the uterus. The best option for a couple trying to conceive using artificial insemination is if there is no male partner. The women (or single woman) would choose sperm from a sperm bank or from a sperm donor, and would use that sperm to inseminate her. The last option for success in artificial insemination is if the cause for infertility is unidentified. Artificial insemination is far less invasive and less costly than in-vitro fertilization.

Artificial insemination can be a successful solution for many couples who struggle with infertility—it is said to increase the success for a couple (with one of the above reasons for infertility) in conceiving by double. It can be emotionally challenging for the partners to go through something like this, and those emotional implications needs to be seriously considered before the couple goes through this procedure. The huge advantage is that it does not involve hormone shots for either partner, and the procedures are outpatient procedures. The next option for an infertile couple is in-vitro insemination, which can be extremely difficult and challenging for a couple, so artificial insemination can be a great help!