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Fertility Rates Felled By Diabetes

According to British researchers, diabetes is fast becoming a common reason for male infertility .

The researchers from the Reproductive Medicine Research Group at Queen's University, Belfast, based their study results on semen samples of 57 men who were diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1. In this disorder, which occurs from birth, the body does not produce the hormone insulin needed for various metabolic activities. In such samples it was seen that diabetes brought about a damage of the sperms.

Defective sperm DNA that was observed by the scientists in these men, is one of the leading causes of male infertility. Here an average of 52 percent of the sperm were found to be fragmented as against 32 percent in normal men. The study also found a higher rate of deletions of DNA in the mitochondria.

Though semen volume was significantly less in diabetic men, there were no significant differences in sperm concentration, structure of the sperm or their ability to move, within the two groups.

Defective sperm DNA is one cause of male infertility, pregnancy failure and miscarriage yet the implications for sperm affected by diabetes are unknown.

Writing in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers said that though the study samples had Type 1 diabetes, the same sperm damage was found in Type 2 Diabetes. This is bound to worry health professionals as rates of Diabetes Type 2 are soaring like never before.

Says study author Dr Ishola Agbaje: "Diabetes will affect many more men prior to and during their reproductive years."

He added that up to one in six couples needs specialist help to conceive.

Co-author Professor Sheena Lewis stressed it was not possible to say whether the DNA damage caused by diabetes would have the same effect on fertility as DNA damage caused by other factors such as smoking.

"There are three things we need to look at - the number of men with diabetes
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