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Does diabetes affect fertility?

Type 2 Diabetes: Blood Sugar and Fertility

Perfect timing is required to become pregnant. That's why, generally speaking, couples aren't advised to consult an infertility specialist unless they've been trying to conceive for one year without success [source: My Infertility Guide]. It's simply that tough to get the timing right. Unfortunately, Type 2 diabetes can complicate ovulation and make a woman's menstrual cycles highly unpredictable. That makes it all the more difficult to become pregnant.

In most cases, Type 2 diabetes is caused by being overweight, obese and/or in poor physical shape for an extended period of time [source: Nordqvist]. The extra weight leads to insulin resistance. When one hormone is out of balance it can cause other hormones to become imbalanced, as well. Since insulin is a hormone, a domino effect can be triggered affecting testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and other hormone levels that are key components of reproduction. Such imbalances are associated with everything from erectile dysfunction to cysts on ovaries [source: Falcone].

Infertility specialists encourage their patients with Type 2 diabetes to focus their efforts on eating healthy, exercising, losing weight and closely monitoring blood sugar levels [source: Falcone]. Taking vitamin supplements is also encouraged. If those efforts alone don't lead to a healthy pregnancy, then medications like metformin, clomiphene citrate and letrozole may be introduced to improve fertility.

It can be a challenge to make the lifestyle changes necessary to deal with Type 2 diabetes. The good news is that those efforts are, quite often, rewarded.

Click ahead to learn how Type 2 diabetes is related to polycystic ovarian syndrome.