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Does Diabetes Affect Male Fertility?

Does diabetes impact male fertility?

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Can diabetes impact male fertility? The short answer is yes. But don’t panic – there is lots you can do to support both your health and fertility if you;re living with the condition. Here we’ll break down exactly how diabetes and fertility are linked and share some lifestyle tips that can help you.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where your body’s blood sugar level becomes too high and this is down to issues with insulin. Insulin is a hormone which helps blood sugar enter your cells so it can be used for energy. In people with diabetes, insulin struggles to do its job properly – this can be because your body struggles to produce enough insulin or it can’t efficiently use the insulin it does produce.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is something you are born with and is technically an autoimmune disease. In people with Type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas – the organ where insulin is produced – and this means that not enough insulin is produced. People with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin every day to help keep their blood sugar levels at a manageable state.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is something that usually develops over time, where your body builds up a resistance to insulin and sugar builds up in your blood. We know that Type 2 is often linked to lifestyle factors like being overweight or underactive and can also be hereditary. It’s the more common type of diabetes – with over 90% of cases of the condition being classed as Type 2.

How do I know if I have diabetes?

There are various symptoms of diabetes that you can look out for and they include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Needing to pee a lot
  • Losing weight unexpectedly
  • Excessive hunger
  • Issues with vision
  • Numb hands and/or feet
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Dry Skin
  • Being prone to infection


Some symptoms are more common in Type 1 diabetics, such as nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains. Because people with Type diabetes often notice symptoms from childhood, it is usually a bit easier to spot. Type 2 diabetics may have no clear symptoms at all, or potentially just attribute them to having a busy, adult life.
The only way to get a clear diabetes diagnosis is to have your blood sugar levels tested – which is something you can do through your GP or health practitioner.

Does diabetes impact male fertility?

Various studies have indicated that having diabetes could have an effect on male fertility and also contribute to psychosexual problems that may make it harder to conceive.

Sperm quality

Whilst (as always) there is not enough conclusive scientific evidence into the link between sperm health and diabetes, some research indicates that men living with diabetes could be more prone to issues with sperm quality – including motility and count. This is likely because high blood sugar levels cause both inflammation and oxidative stress – two of the biggest enemies of sperm health. There is also a strong link between Type 2 diabetes and obesity – and we know that being overweight can have a huge impact on the quality of your sperm.

Erectile Dysfunction

Studies have shown that there is a high prevalence of erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes. It’s believed that this is caused by nerve damage and poor circulation which are both associated with long-standing diabetes or diabetes that has not been managed properly. There is also research to support the theory that high cholesterol is linked to issues with sexual function and many people with diabetes are also living with high cholesterol. Whilst erectile dysfunction may not technically impact the quality of your sperm cells, it can still obviously cause some issues in having sex and conceiving.

Issues With Ejaculation

The nerve damage associated with diabetes can also cause issues with ejaculation. For some, this might mean they experience retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation is where semen ends up in your bladder rather than coming out of your penis when you have an orgasm- which means you will ejaculate with little or no semen, which obviously isn’t good news if you are trying to conceive.

In some cases, you may experience delayed ejaculation where it takes a lot of sexual stimulus to achieve orgasms. Whilst this might not directly lead to fertility issues, it can obviously make sex quite stressful and make trying to conceive even harder to navigate.

Low Testosterone levels

Men with diabetes are twice as likely to struggle with low testosterone. It’s thought that this is probably due to a link between testosterone production and insulin resistance. Whilst it’s totally possible to conceive with low testosterone (also known as Low T) it can cause a number of issues for your health including low libido, depression, erectile dysfunction and increased body fat – all of which can contribute to a tougher fertility journey.

How to improve your health and fertility if you have diabetes

If you have diabetes the good news is that everything you should be doing to help manage the condition will also support your fertility, such as:

  • Trying to reach a healthy weight
  • Eating whole foods that don’t have too much sugar in them
  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Reducing your alcohol intake
  • Staying active
  • Managing sleep and stress


It’s also really important to ensure you are taking any of your prescribed medications – even on days that you feel good!

If you have diabetes and are struggling to conceive (and lifestyle factors aren’t helping) there are still many options for your road to fatherhood. Assisted fertility treatments such as IVF and ICSI can not only help if you are struggling with poor sperm quality but can also negate the need for intercourse if issues like erectile dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation are making intercourse difficult.

Worried diabetes is impacting your sperm health? Just like you can test your blood sugar from the comfort of your home, our totally at-home fertility test makes it easier than ever to test and track your sperm quality. You can learn more about our test and order yours right here.


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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.