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Insulin Resistance and Infertility: Understanding the Connection

Insulin Resistance and Infertility: Understanding the Connection

Insulin resistance is a common problem. It’s often linked to obesity, although not always. A lesser known link is to fertility: About 12% of women have difficulty conceiving a child due to insulin resistance. 

When you have insulin resistance, you don’t ovulate on a regular basis. This can lead to problems with conceiving a child. Dr. Edward J. Ramirez of The Fertillity & Gynecology Center - Monterey Bay IVF explains more about how insulin resistance affects your fertility–and how you can overcome it.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a very common condition in both men and women. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, which signals your body to release more blood sugar after eating.

Insulin resistance is often associated with Type 2 diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS.) Both of these conditions can lead to infrequent ovulation, which makes it more difficult to conceive.

How insulin resistance interferes with ovulation

A body that is insulin resistant doesn’t ovulate normally. Particularly in polycystic ovarian syndrome, the balance of estrogen and androgens is abnormal. Your body produces more of the luteinizing hormone that helps control your menstrual cycle than normal, which causes you to produce more androgens such as free testosterone. This can block ovulation completely.

In addition, if you do get pregnant, you can face a higher risk of miscarriage than average. Consistently high blood sugar levels can compromise the quality of your eggs and cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

How to conquer insulin resistance

You can overcome insulin resistance a few different ways. The first way is by making some lifestyle changes. 

Getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and working on stress reduction are important to helping your body fight insulin resistance. Even losing as little as 5-10% of your body weight can often make a major difference in insulin resistance.

Avoid simple carbohydrates because these will cause a spike in your blood sugar. You may feel a “crash” after eating them, which is often a sign of insulin resistance. Eat more fiber to keep your blood sugar stable.

We also have medications that can help to induce ovulation if you are insulin resistant. Some of these medications include metformin, a drug that lowers your blood sugar, and clomiphene, a fertility drug.

Why controlling insulin resistance is important

If your insulin resistance is not well-controlled, you face more risks if you do manage to conceive. One of the biggest risks is gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Your pregnancy will be monitored closely. If you do have gestational diabetes, you’ll be required to keep your daily blood sugar low. If you don’t have gestational diabetes, you will still want to help maintain normal blood sugar through diet and exercise.

If you are concerned about insulin resistance and infertility, your best bet is to schedule a consultation. Call or message Dr. Edward J. Ramirez at The Fertility & Gynecology Center-Monterey Bay IVF in Monterey, California.

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