Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not use the insulin it produces properly. Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of sugar in the blood.
The two types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, is characterized by insufficient production of insulin and requires daily administration. The cause of Τype 1 diabetes is not known and, according to current knowledge, it is not preventable.
The symptoms, that might appear suddenly, are:
- Feeling of thirst
- Constant hunger
- Weight loss
- Impaired vision.
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes), results from the body’s misuse of insulin. Type 2 diabetes accounts for most of the diabetes in the world. It is largely the result of being overweight and sedentary. Its symptoms can be the same as those of type 1 diabetes but are often less marked. As a result, the disease can be diagnosed several years after its onset once complications have already developed. Recently, this type of diabetes was only seen in adults, but it is now also found in children.
How does diabetes affect female Fertility?
Type 1 diabetes has been shown to reduce a woman’s reproductive period by delaying the onset of the first menstrual period. However, more importantly in terms of fertility, might cause menopause due to premature ovarian ageing. On the other hand, women with Type 2 diabetes have fewer and of poorer quality eggs. They usually have a less receptive endometrium.
According to statistics, women with diabetes have a reduced chance of becoming pregnant and of carrying a pregnancy to term when the diabetes is not controlled. In addition, the risk of miscarriage is increased. The risk of the fetus suffering from malformations, intrauterine growth retardation or macrosomia (the fetus is too large and can cause problems during delivery) is also greater.
The consequences of diabetes for women:
- Hormonal disorders. Excessive glucose can cause hormonal alterations affecting the levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are essential for fertility and pregnancy.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome tend to have increased insulin resistance, which promotes ovulation disorders. This condition is a major risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and can directly affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
- Alterations in menstrual cycles. When it is a hormonal disease, it can easily affect the menstrual cycle, usually causing menstrual irregularities, delayed cycles, and alterations in the ovulatory phase.
- Obesity problems. Obesity has been shown to be a factor that directly interferes with female fertility. It is very likely that women suffering from obesity have altered levels of leptin, which directly affects the success of embryo implantation in the uterus. It has also been observed that in assisted reproduction treatments, obesity can be a negative factor.
Do you want to get pregnant?
If you have diabetes and are planning to have a baby, plan your pregnancy. Plan a preconception consultation that encourages birth professionals to give you the best chance of a healthy pregnancy. Your endocrinologist/physician will modify your treatment if needed, and insulin injections may be necessary. You may also be asked to modify your diet with a dietician – diabetologist who will recommend physical activity. Finally, you will be prescribed folic acid as it helps to prevent the risk of spina bifida (incomplete development of the spine) and malformations of the fetus’ brain.