Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes

islets of hope home buttonabout type 1 diabetes buttonabout type 2 diabetes buttondiabetes care tips from othersdiabetes treatmentdiabetes education rightsdiabetes resources

Article disclaimer

Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail:

diabetes forums
diabetes support lists
diabetes blog

Links to more comprehensive information on complications of diabetes

Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic Retinopathy
Eating Disorders
Erectile Dysfunctions
Foot & Skin Problems
Frozen Shoulder
Gum Disease
Heart Problems
High Blood Pressure
Insulin Shock
Kidney Problems
Lactic Acidosis
Seizures & Coma
Peripheral Artery Disease
Sexual Problems
Urologic Problems
Weight Gain
Weight Loss
Wound Care

Join an Islets of Hope Support Group for Adoption or for those Trying To Conceive


Newly Diagnosed Diabetes Information
Information for those Newly Diagnosed with Diabetes                             Print Full Diabetes Complications Article

Complications of diabetes
Primary & secondary infertility

This section:    Infertility

Other complications:

Amputation  *  Blindness  *  Diabetic Ketoacidosis  *  Diabetic Neuropathy  *  Diabetic Retinopathy  *
Eating Disorders  *   Erectile Dysfunctions  *  Foot & Skin Problems  *  Gastroparesis
 *  Gum Disease *    Heart Problems  *
High Blood Pressure
 *  Infections  *   Infertility  *  Insulin Shock  *  Kidney Problems  *  Seizures & Coma  *
Peripheral Artery Disease  * Sexual Problems  *  Urologic Problems  *  Weight Gain  *  Weight Loss
 *  Wound Care

Click on any link to read more in-depth information about each topic.  


Diabetes, and certain disorders that are sometimes associated with diabetes (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and thyroid disorders) may lead to primary or secondary infertility.  Those who suffer from metabolic disorders like pre-diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome may also have impaired infertility. Often, simply losing weight and making positive changes in lifestyle may improve ovulatory function and fertility.

Primary vs. Secondary
(Excerpts from

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects about 6.1 million people in the U.S., equivalent to ten percent of the reproductive age population. Female infertility accounts for one third of infertility cases, male infertility for another third, combined male and female infertility for another 15%, and the remainder of cases are unexplained

Secondary infertility is difficulty conceiving after already having conceived and carried a normal pregnancy.  Apart from various medical conditions (e.g. hormonal), this may come as a result of age and stress felt to provide a sibling for their first child. Technically, secondary infertility is not present if there has been a change of partners.

Combined Infertility

In some cases, both the man and woman may be infertile or sub-fertile, and the couple's infertility arises from the combination of these conditions. In other cases, the cause is suspected to be immunological or genetic; it may be that each partner is independently fertile but the couple cannot conceive together without assistance.

Unexplained Infertility

In about 15 % of cases the infertility investigation will show no abnormalities. In these cases abnormalities are likely to be present but not detected by current methods. Possible problems could be that the egg is not released at the optimum time for fertilization, that it may not enter the fallopian tube, sperm may not be able to reach the egg, fertilization may fail to occur, transport of the zygote may be disturbed, or implantation fails. It is increasingly recognized that egg quality is of critical importance and women of advanced maternal age have eggs of reduced capacity for normal and successful fertilization.   

How Diabetes and other Metabolic Disorders can Affect Fertility

One of the functions of insulin is to act as a "fat" storing hormone.  Excess insulin can contribute to weight gain which in turn can decrease fertility.  A balance of hormones contributes to the ovulatory cycle of women, and carrying excess weight can cause an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.  This can lead to an interruption of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles.

Many with type 2 diabetes are also insulin resistant, that is, they make insulin but do not respond well to the normal action of  insulin.  Women that are insulin resistance overproduce insulin in order for their blood glucose levels to remain in a normal range.  This overproduction of insulin, especially when there is an accompanying unhealthy lifestyle, can lead to weight problems, as well as a disruption of normal hormone productions, setting the stage for female infertility.

Insulin resistance is commonly seen in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  Treatment often includes insulin sensitizing medication (such as Glucophage) which may help restore normal ovulatory function.  Losing weight, even as little as 15% of excess body weight may also result in spontaneous resumption of ovulation.

For those considering pregnancy, make sure that your blood glucose levels are well under control prior to becoming pregnant as well as during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of diabetes associated complications with pregnancy.

Our comprehensive infertility section includes links to our "Adoption" information pages.


Contact Us  |  About IOH  |  Our Mission  |  Elizabeth's Story  |  About the Founder  |  Join IOH  |  How To Help  |  Advertise  |  Privacy Statement  |  Site Index  |

Page Updated 03/23/2006