How does diabetes affect chances of fertility in men and women?

Written by: Dr Sheharyar Qureshi
Edited by: Karolyn Judge
The more we know about diabetes, the more we are able to help diagnose it in people and manage it through life. For diabetic patients, how can it affect fertility and pregnancy?
To answer these important questions, we interviewed one of our expert consultant endocrinologists, Dr Sheharyar Qureshi.

Diabetic couple who have had their fertility affected, looking at a pregnancy test.


How does diabetes affect fertility and reproductive health in both men and women? 

Diabetes is a chronic condition which can affect fertility in males and females. Diabetes disease; either type 1 diabetes or type 2, could have a detrimental affect on fertility, especially male fertility. It has an impact on sperm quality, sperm motility and the DNA integrity, and other ingredients. 


In females, similar issues can arise with regards to having diabetes if it isn't very well controlled. So, it's incredibly important to have well-controlled diabetes in both men and women.  



Can diabetes stop you from getting pregnant?

There are many types of diabetes; type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but all types, if they aren't very well controlled, can stop women from becoming pregnant. 


Many women with diabetes are able to conceive if the diabetes is well controlled, and a healthy body weight is maintained throughout the pregnancy. On the other side of the spectrum, if the diabetes isn't very well controlled it can become difficult to, first conceive, and there is a high risk of miscarriage during the first trimester if diabetes remains uncontrolled. 


We do suggest to be under a specialist team who can support at the stage of preconception, at the time of conception, and during every trimester, so the diabetes can be well managed. 


If it's well controlled, like I already said, and a healthy body weight is maintained, it's possible to achieve successful conception with help of a specialist team.    



Are diabetic males at risk of infertility?

It has been demonstrated in certain studies that diabetes leads to reduced quality, and diabetes has an ability to cause infertility that way. Like we've said, if diabetes remains uncontrolled, it can lead to infertility, but it's possible to be under a specialist team and get diabetes under control, improving chances of conception in both men and women. 



What risks are there to a newborn baby of a diabetic mother?

The risk for infants who are born to diabetic mothers, is predominantly that babies are larger than babies with non diabetic mothers, especially when diabetes remains not well-controlled. 


Delivery becomes harder because of the increase in size, and there's also an increased risk of nerve injuries and trauma during birth. 


In a lot of circumstances, if the body weight is on the higher side, a surgery might be required. We could call for a C-section instead of natural birth. 



What should women with diabetes do to manage their blood sugar in pregnancy?

In ladies with diabetes in pregnancy, they are normally advised in our clinic to maintain their blood sugar at a certain level. This could be achieved with the help of the specialist team, without having any low blood sugars. 


In our clinics, they're advised to maintain their lowest blood sugar, which is a fasting blood sugar at 5.5 millimoles (mmols) per litre. After one hour, to be less than 7.8 mmols, or after 2 hours to be 6.4 mmols per litre throughout the pregnancy. 


As we've discussed this is important for diabetes to be well-controlled during pregnancy and it could lead to less complications; there is no risk of requiring surgery. At the end of the pregnancy, natural birth could be become possible with the help of a specialist team.   




If you'd like to arrange an appointment with Dr Qureshi, you can do so via his Top Doctors profile

By Dr Sheharyar Qureshi
Endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism

Dr Sheharyar Qureshi is a highly qualified European award-winning endocrinologist and the highest rated in London. He specialises in the management of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, technology in diabetes, infertility treatment, thyroid diseases, and neuroendocrine tumours.

Dr Qureshi provides private consultations at Cromwell Hospital, the London Endocrine and Diabetes Clinic, Chelsea and Westminster Private Care, and Basing Hall Clinic London. He also serves as a consultant in Endocrinology, diabetes, and internal medicine at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust.
His educational background includes an MBBS from King Edward Medical University in 2001, followed by an MSc in Endocrinology from Barts and London School of Medicine (Distinction). In 2017, he received an MRCP in Endocrinology from the Royal College of Physicians of London.
Dr Qureshi's contributions to medical education extend to his role as an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College London. His research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, and he holds the distinction of receiving an award for his master's thesis on neuroendocrine tumours from the University of London.
He is the winner of the European Awards in Medicine 2023 in a prestigious ceremony that was held at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, celebrating the professional achievements of Specialists who have excelled in every field of medicine. Dr Sheharyar Qureshi was also awarded the Amarnath prize 2023 for research in Diabetes by Amarnath Foundation.
Dr Qureshi is actively involved in professional endocrinology associations at both national and international levels. He served as the US endocrine secretary for the Endocrine Society in 2013 and is affiliated with organisations such as the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists (ABCD), Diabetes UK, Diabetes Technology Network, the British Medical Association, the Society of Endocrinology, the Young Diabetologist and Endocrinologist Forum (YDEF), among others.
Dr Qureshi is dedicated to building trust with his patients and has earned high praise for his exceptional clinical skills. His practice involves various aspects of healthcare, including type 1 diabetes care, women's health, men's health, weight management, and general internal medicine.

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