Question: How does diabetes affect female fertility?
Answer: There is somewhat of a relationship between diabetes and fertility. Young women with diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, tend, on average, to start their periods a little bit later in life than women without diabetes.
Then, on the other end of the spectrum, women with diabetes tend to go through menopause slightly earlier, so this provides a slightly smaller window of fertility for women with diabetes. In addition, many women with type 2 diabetes have an underlying syndrome called 'polycystic ovarian syndrome.' We call it 'PCOS.'
PCOS is associated with insulin resistance, which is a major player in type 2 diabetes, and so that's why there's a relationship between these two issues. Because of the effects of PCOS on the ovaries, women with type 2 diabetes and PCOS may find a harder time with conception than women without diabetes.
So, that's really the relationship between diabetes and fertility. And, if a woman does want to get pregnant and has diabetes, it's critically important for her to be in good control of her blood glucose levels with an A1c below 7 percent before she goes off of contraceptive agents and starts trying to get pregnant.