Of the many hurdles that women who pass a certain age (read: late thirties), face in the journey of conceiving a child, such as weight issues, PCOS, etc. Diabetes comes in as an equally major concern. Diabetes can affect both men and women's fertility and reproductive health. The condition can affect hormones, causing pregnancy to be delayed or failed. Diabetes is also attributed to lower sperm and embryo quality, while also causing DNA damage. Diabetes in women is a condition that is often associated with a variety of linked disorders, including a lower rate of fertility.
Studies have also frequently proved that diabetic women's menstrual cycles can be disrupted/shortened as a result of delayed menarche and premature menopause. Diabetes and pre-diabetes in women and men has become a common problem in their reproductive years. Similarly, the number of women diagnosed with diabetes for the first time during pregnancy has increased significantly (known as gestational diabetes). Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Geetha Haripriya (MBBS, DGO, MD) – Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fellow of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FRCOG) – London, Chairperson, Prashanth Group of Hospitals, about things you need to know if you are diabetic and trying to conceive.
Diabetes and infertility
Increased blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can make ovulation more difficult and menstrual cycles less regular in women. According to the American Diabetes Association, high blood glucose levels increase a woman's chances of miscarriage by 30-60% during early pregnancy. High glucose levels can prevent the embryo from implanting in the uterus before the woman even discovers she is pregnant. Elevated glucose levels can also have a devastating effect on oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels, all of which are necessary for pregnancy to begin and persist until delivery.
Diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational) can harm both the woman and her unborn child's health. Miscarriage, birth abnormalities, and other major complications are all increased by poor blood sugar control during early pregnancy. An extra-large baby, c-section, pre-eclampsia, and hypoglycemia in the infant are all risks associated with uncontrolled gestational diabetes. A few decades ago, women with uncontrolled blood sugar or diabetes were told they couldn't get pregnant, but now, with medical assistance and blood glucose levels monitored and controlled within a safe range, having a healthy child as a diabetic woman is achievable.
How to improve the chances of conceiving if you have diabetes?
Getting medical advice on time to control your diabetes to near-normal range, screening for any silent complications of diabetes like retinopathy, and making some crucial lifestyle changes can help lower the impact of diabetes, and improve chances of fertility. According to Dr. Geetha, here are some simple ways to improve the chances of conceiving if you have diabetes:
1. Losing body weight
Losing extra body weight can be a helping factor for conceiving if you are diabetic. You should only go for weight loss if necessary especially If you are overweight and it should be done under proper medical guidance. You can ask your doctor about ways to lose weight naturally for diabetics.
2. Elimination of smoking, and harmful drugs
It is also important to eliminate any kind of harmful drugs, alcohol and smoking if you are trying to conceive and a diabetes patient. And even if you are not diabetic, one should restrict smoking or drugs.
3. Balanced diet
Diabetics should also indulge in the consumption of healthy and balanced meals. You should try and include the foods in your diet that are low in glycemic index. Food items such as green vegetables, most fruits, lentils, etc can be incorporated in daily diet to keep the blood sugar levels in control, when trying to conceive.
4. Keep oneself engaged finding methods to cope with stress
Stress is a major negative contributing factor that can make things difficult when it comes to diabetes and infertility. If you are diabetic, your chances of conceiving can improve with low stress levels. It is even suggested by experts to keep tension and anxiety at bay. One can try engaging in stress management methods as well.
If you are diabetic, then it is important to take care of some things for fertility, as per Dr. Geetha Haripriya. Knowing and addressing the risks of pre-diabetes and/or diabetes provides you with valuable information that you can use to make positive changes in your life. If you make the subtle above listed lifestyle moderations, then conceiving can become easier.