Male Infertility and Diabetes

ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.

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Diabetes is a condition that impacts around 1 in 11 adults globally, totalling more than 400 million people. More worringly, around 46% of these people are undiagnosed, so they are living with the condition unbeknown to them.

This article covers the folllowing points:

  • What's male infertility?
  • What's diabetes?
  • Type 1 diabetes and fertility
  • Does type 2 daibetes affect fertility?
  • Diabetes' impact on sperm
  • Conclusion

Diabetes is a condition that can lead to an array of health problems and concerns, and this is something that you need to try to work around.

If you are someone who is living with diabetes, it is important that you know the type of diabetes you have, and how this might affect you in the future - more on this later. 

Try to make sure you do as much as you can to improve and enhance this process, and there are a lot of things that will help you when it comes to making the right decisions and understanding your fertility status.

Learning how much diabetes impacts your life, and how much, if at all, it will have an affect on your fertility is very important. Especially if you are considering having a child in the future.

What is Male Infertility?

male infertility and diabetes

In its most basic measure, male infertility means that a man is responisble for not being able to fertilize his partners egg. As a result, they cannot conceive and have a child within 12 months of trying.

Please bear in mind that there is also a prevelance of female infertility, and in some cases, both the male and female can have reproductive issues at the same time.

There are many things that might cause infertility, such as the inability to produce enough healthy sperm, a blockage in the genital tract, or an underlying health condition such as cystic fibrosis or even a sexually transmitted disease.

What may bring you some comfort is that male infertility isn't rare, and it is seen to be an increasing condition.

There are commonly two types of infertility; primary infertility and secondary infertility, and knowing the difference between the two is important.

Primary infertility is where you and your partner have never had children together.

Whilst secondary infertility is where you and your partner have had children together but are having problems conceiving again.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects the way your body turns food into energy, and this is a condition that impacts more than 34 million Americans as of 2020.

The National Health Service of the United Kingdom states that diabetes can be treated in a number of different ways, including things like diet, exercise, blood glucose testing, and, in some cases, insulin.

Diabetes is classified as either Type 1 or Type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes

This when your own immune system attacks and destroys those cells that produce insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes

A condition when your body doesn't react to the insulin, as such your body may initially produce too much and wear out the insulin producing cells which then leads to an insufficient supply.

What's the role of insulin?

You may be wondering what the importance of insulin is, and why diabetes is such a health concern.

However, insulin's role is to balance the levels of micronutrients in the body; micronutrients are vitamin and minerals. It also controls the use and storage of glucose (carbohydrates) and fat.

By doing so (correctly), insulin is then able to regulate the energy supply within the body.

If your body is either attacking, destroying those cells that produce insulin or doesn't respond to insulin in type 1 diabetes this can lead to dangerous condition called ketoacidosis.

In type 2 diabetes the additional strain placed on the pancreas (which produces insulin) can cause it to wear out and stop producing it altogether, and in turn this can also develop in to ketoacidosis which may lead to a coma or death.

There are a lot of factors that will help you to manage and improve your diabetes as much as possible, and this is something that you need to try to work on by consulting with a medical specialist who will direct you accordingly.

Being able to improve the way in which you live with your diabetes is very important, and this is something that can help you when it comes to trying to help improve your fertility and giving you a higher chance of conceiving.  

Type 1 Diabetes and Fertility in Males

diabetes and male infertility

There are a lot of things that can cause infertility issues when it comes to type 1 diabetes, but research published by the American Society of Andrology and European Academy of Andrology outline that the condition can affect the following:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Disrupting male accessory gland function
  • Reduce sperm motility
  • Impaired sperm mitochondrial function 

Diabetes type 1 is one of the most common forms of the condition, and can have a big impact on fertility particularly as it affects men of reproductive age.

Does Type 2 Diabetes Affect Fertility In Males?

Type 2 diabetes can impact fertility in males as well, and there are a number of things to consider here.

Around 1 in 4 men who suffer from type 2 diabetes experience a condition called hypogonadism, which is basically low testosterone levels.

This can lead to problems that may contribute to reduced fertility, such as low sperm concentrations, erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive.

Understanding this makes it easier to take steps that will help you when it comes to managing your type 2 diabetes, and trying to help you improve your fertility. 

Diabetes' Impact on Sperm 

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to improving your life and understanding the way in which diabetes impacts sperm health.

Research published in 2015 shows that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes has a detrimental effect on sperm health, such as motility, DNA integrity, sperm quality and seminal plasma.

One of the key things to remember is that if you are over the age of 40, having diabetes can significantly reduce sperm volume.

A study from the International Journal of Fertility suggest that there is a big impact on this, and the total sperm count and motility approximately 3-5 hours after ejaculation was different in patients with a diabetes duration of 12 years over more, versus a diabetes duration of 2 years or more.

And this is something that you need to gain an understanding of if you are going to be able to work toward helping combat the issues that come with diabetes and infertility. 

Conclusion

Infertility and diabetes have often been considered to be linked, and some studies seem to suggest that this is the case.

But that is not to say that everyone who suffers from diabetes will have to face infertility, and there is no suggestion that this is even the case for most men.

It seems that Type 2 diabetes is less effective when it comes to impacting fertility, but there is still a risk of infertility as a result of some of the symptoms and side-effects linked to Type 2 diabetes.

Men with Type 1 diabetes might have more DNA damage in their sperm, and this is something that can lead to infertility as well, so it is important to know ensure that you are diagnosed.

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