Effect of diabetes on Male fertility

Male fertility

In the human body, the pancreas releases insulin to control blood sugar levels after food is consumed. When the body is not able to take the glucose into its cells and use it for energy, extra sugar remains in the bloodstream which causes diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is autoimmune where the insulin producing cells are destroyed. Pre-diabetes is when the body cannot process sugars properly, so sugar levels are normally high but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. When the blood sugar levels are not controlled properly, they escalate and result in type 2 diabetes. This is when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to control the blood sugar levels or the body becomes immune to the insulin and it does not work.

We often hear about the detrimental health effects that diabetes causes. Among cardiac danger, kidney damage, obesity and other serious health conditions, it may also affect the reproductive system.

Diabetes can damage nerves and blood vessels, increasing the risk of infection if it is not properly controlled. It has been found that men with pre-diabetes (higher than normal blood sugars) have low testosterone levels, more damage to sperm DNA and sometimes azoospermia (absence of sperm). Hypogonadism (low testosterone levels) can result in low sperm count, erectile dysfunction and libido (decreased sex drive). Diabetes has also been linked to ejaculation problems and balanitis (inflammation of the tip of the penis).

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the body. This causes long-term damage to organs, leading to dysfunction and failure. Glucose metabolism is the process where the food we eat is turned into glucose to flow through the blood cells. When sufficient glucose builds around the cells, the pancreas produces insulin. Glucose metabolism is required for producing and developing mature spermatozoa. It is also important for keeping basic cells active and functions in increasing motility and hyperactivation in human sperm. Diabetic diseases can negatively affect sperm quality, DNA integrity, motility and components of seminal plasma (the fluid from secretions of organs or tubules in the seminal tract). Spermatozoa metabolize several substrates or pathways to ensure supplies of energy. Any defects in these testicular metabolic pathways result in altered sperm metabolism which detracts from the sperm quality.

Although high blood sugar levels can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, the wrong diet and lack of exercise, genetics are also linked to this. Parents who have diabetes can transmit it to subsequent generations via gametes (an organism’s reproductive cells – ova in females and sperm in males).

Semen analysis and sperm DFI testing can show the quality level of the sperm and can be linked to high sugar levels. It is wise to undergo these tests when planning to start a family, if there is a history of diabetes. If high, the sugar levels can be controlled to some extent by positive lifestyle changes, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and exercising frequently as well as with medical interventions.

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