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Male Infertility Linked to Type 1 Diabetes

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 1/31/2011

Are you looking for information about type 1 diabetes and male infertility? Here we will explore the link.

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    Type 1 diabetes is a condition affecting the pancreas that is chronic. It is characterized by insufficient amounts of insulin being produced by the pancreas, resulting in blood glucose levels that are higher than normal.

    Male infertility is defined as the sperm being immobile or misshapen, not enough sperm being produced, or there being a blockage present resulting in the delivery of sperm being prevented. Chronic health problems, such as type 1 diabetes, can cause male infertility. Type 1 diabetes and male infertility can go hand in hand.

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    Possible Link

    For a long time now, it has been suspected that type 1 diabetes may cause infertility in men. In recent years, this link has been further explored and links have been discovered. It has been shown that the DNA in the sperm of men with diabetes is damaged more often than it is in men without diabetes. Diabetic men tend to have a lower sperm volume than their non-diabetic counterparts. Diabetic men's sperm cell nuclear DNA was shown to be more fragmented than it is in men who do not have diabetes. More deletions in the sperm cell's mitochondrial DNA were present in diabetic men than it was in non-diabetic men.

    Researchers have discovered that high blood sugar levels in men result in a significant reduction in the ability to repair the DNA of sperm. Once sperm DNA is damaged, there is no chance of restoring it. This was discovered through DNA analysis.

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    Treating Male Infertility

    If it is shown that type 1 diabetes and male infertility are related, the patient must first begin by getting his diabetes under control. This often includes self-injecting insulin at least once a day, and often more than once a day, and lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and making dietary adjustments.

    There are treatments available for any sexual intercourse problems he may be experiencing. Erectile dysfunction may improve with certain prescription medications, such as Cialis and Viagra. Premature ejaculation may also benefit from medical treatment. Some men benefit from counseling for premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. When both of these are treated, fertility may also be improved.

    If the patient is hoping to conceive, assisted reproductive technology may be beneficial. In this treatment, a doctor will take the patient's sperm directly from his testicle. In some cases, sperm will be retrieved from the patient's bladder. Once the sperm is recovered, it can be directly injected into the egg of the patient's partner. The most commonly used assisted reproductive technology procedure is known as in vitro fertilization.

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    Resources

    MedlinePlus. (2010). Type 1 Diabetes. Retrieved on January 30, 2011 from MedlinePlus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000305.htm

    Agbaje, I.M., Rogers, D.A., et al. (2007). Diabetes Linked to Male Infertility. Retrieved on January 30, 2011 from Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/69779.php

    Mayo Clinic. (2010). Male Infertility. Retrieved on January 30, 2011 from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-infertility/DS01038