Prediabetes and Infertility in Men
A couple typically receives their infertility diagnosis after not conceiving for one year of unprotected sex. When it comes to infertility, women often feel societal pressure to conceive. However, 40-50% of infertility is due to male factors. 1 New research released in 2018 may also give new insight into why some men are unable to impregnate their partners. This condition, prediabetes, is often undetected and underdiagnosed.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal. However, these levels are not as high as when type 1 or type 2 diabetes is present. These levels indicate that the body isn’t using its own supply of insulin efficiently.
What does the research show?
In the study, researchers checked the glucose levels of 744 men who had not impregnated their partners after 12 months. 15.4% of the participants had fasting and after-meal blood glucose levels in the prediabetes category. 2 This is between 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) and 125 mg/dl at fasting. At two hours after drinking 75 grams of glucose, it is between 140 and 199 mg/dl. It can also be measured by having an average blood glucose reading, known as a hemoglobin A1C reading, of at least 5.7%.
What is the link between prediabetes and infertility?
Without treatment or positive lifestyle changes, prediabetes can become type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects overall sperm quality. Sperm motility also decreases. Sperm DNA integration is affected and semen volume decreases as well.
What factors increase the risk of prediabetes?
Always take prediabetes seriously. It’s a warning sign that you may develop type 2 diabetes. Those who meet any of the following criteria are more likely to have prediabetes according to the Center for Disease Control:
Having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
Age in the mid-forties or older
Exercising less than three times a week
Weighing over the recommendation for your height
Being of certain ethnicities: Hispanic/Latino, African-American, Pacific Islander, Native American, and some Asian American ethnicities
How can men combat prediabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes can help lower blood glucose levels into the nondiabetic range. This range is less than 100 mg/dl at fasting and not higher than 126 mg/dl two hours after eating.
Some recommended lifestyle changes include:
Losing 5 to 7% of your current body weight
Cooking foods with less fat by roasting, broiling, grilling, steaming or baking rather than frying
Exercising for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week
Are you diabetic? Learn about diabetic care at CCMH by visiting CcmhHealth.com/Diabetes-Services.
1 Naina Kumar and Amit Kant Singh. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. 2015 October.
2 Luca Boeri, Paolo Capogrosso, Eugenio Ventimiglia, et al. BJUI International. Undiagnosed prediabetes is highly prevalent in primary infertile men – results from a cross‐sectional study. 16 October 2018.
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