How does diabetes impact male fertility?
With diabetes, excess glucose in the blood impairs the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin. As a result, the body becomes resistant to insulin, and over time, diabetes develops. High blood sugar can impact hormones like testosterone, leading to reduced fertility. Diabetes is also linked to erectile dysfunction (ED) and problems with ejaculation. The disease damages blood vessels leading to the penis and reduces nitric oxide, an essential compound in sexual health. Diabetes can also lead to heart disease, urinary tract problems, fatigue, and high cortisol levels, all of which indirectly impact fertility. For men diagnosed with diabetes, the following 3 strategies can help improve fertility.
1. Get the right medication
Studies show that diabetes medication can directly and indirectly improve sperm health and male fertility. Some anti-diabetic drugs may help with ED by increasing nitric oxide production. Anti-diabetic medicines can also help balance hormones like follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone. Some oral medication may also improve sperm quality and reduce oxidative stress. Men should take the medication as prescribed, watch for side effects, and work with a doctor to ensure the best results.
2. Diet and lifestyle changes matter
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can both respond well to significant diet and lifestyle changes. This, in turn, can return the body to homeostasis, thereby improving fertility. A diet free of processed foods, refined sugars, and carbohydrates can help. Focusing on lean protein, healthy fats, fruit, and vegetables can help regulate blood sugar and improve fertility over time. Studies also show that resistance training can increase hormones like testosterone, which are essential for male fertility. Avoiding smoking and alcohol use can also be a beneficial approach for men with diabetes hoping to conceive.
3. Consider fertility treatment
Some men may need additional support to increase the chances of conceiving. A urologist or reproductive specialist can help identify the underlying fertility problem and recommend appropriate treatment. Some men can benefit from fertility medication to improve sperm quality. Moreover, procedures like intrauterine insemination (IUI), where the sperm is washed and medically transferred to the woman, can improve pregnancy rates. In vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are other viable options for men with more serious cases of infertility.
Improved fertility is possible
Diabetes is more likely to cause long-term damage to men in a range of health markers. Fertility is a particularly concerning repercussion of diabetes and must be addressed if the man wants to start or grow a family. The first step is a proper diagnosis of diabetes and expressing any fertility concerns. From there, medication, lifestyle changes, and fertility treatment can improve the chances of conceiving.