Diabetes Mellitus is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the main source of energy and in cases of diabetes mellitus, excessive amounts of glucose circulate in the blood and cannot reach the cells easily. This leads to health problems if one does not take the appropriate medications or follow a specific healthy lifestyle.
But is there an association between diabetes mellitus and women’s fertility?
It has been documented that women with Diabetes (type 1 or 2) on average start their periods later on and some of them go through menopause earlier. Therefore, the reproductive period of women suffering from diabetes may be reduced due to the delayed start of periods (menarche) and also due to the possible premature menopause. These conditions are also associated with menstrual abnormalities such as oligomenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea.
In addition, many women with the well known “polycystic ovarian syndrome” (PCOS), usually suffer from diabetes mellitus 2 at some time of their life. PCO patients have a resistance to insulin, something totally associated with type 2 diabetes. These women have irregular cycles and find it harder to conceive. The hyperinsulinemia associated with PCOS and obesity is thought to increase androgen levels which may cause anovulation (cycles when no eggs are produced) and can adversely affect egg quality. Sometimes, just by correcting the hyperinsulinemia a pregnancy can be achieved.
Diabetes on its own does not necessarily keep women from getting pregnant, but it often may cause issues during pregnancy, especially if their glucose control is poor and they’ve had the disease for a long time. When glucose levels are too high, these may keep embryos from implanting as it may affect estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels. These hormones are all very significant for a pregnancy to occur and to carry on.
It is significant to keep to get to a healthy weight level when trying to become pregnant and to regulate such issues. Newlife IVF Greece has the expertise to assist women suffering from diabetes or with Polycystic Ovarian syndrome to achieve their goal of creating a family. We can offer suggestions on how to lose weight, as normal diets will not work well in these conditions and assist in how pregnancy can be achieved.
Chrysa Karakosta, BSc, MSc
Chrysa is the Lab co-Director at Newlife IVF Greece, in Thessaloniki Greece, from the beginning of 2010 and now heads the International Patient Department.