I had my first child at 37, after living with type 1 since age 7 and doing fertility treatment, including IVF, for a year. I am also the author of “Balancing Pregnancy WIth Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby,” which includes a chapter on infertility and pregnancy loss for those of us with type 1 or type 2. (And thanks, Jane, for the mention!)
It’s pretty clear that age, and not diabetes, was the reason for my infertility: my A1cs were always in the mid-to-low sixes as I tried to conceive. The doctors I talked to for my book all said that diabetes in itself doesn’t directly cause infertility as long as your blood sugars are in tight (i.e., A1cs under 7.0, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association, or even lower, as recommended by some other doctors, but not all) control. If they are higher, it is possible that you wouldn’t conceive because your body realizes that high sugars make it a less hospitable place to nurture a baby. At the same time, plenty of women conceive and carry babies to term with higher blood sugars, so that is not always the case.
Also, women with type 2, as well as some with type 1, are prone to having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a condition where the woman doesn’t ovulate every month, or on time, which can definitely lead to infertility problems. There are medications, such as Clomid, which can help regulate ovulation if you find you are not ovulating on time each month.
I definitely know of other type 1 women who have conceived in their mid-to-late 30s and 40s, some on their own and some with infertility treatment. This is anecdotal (i.e. they were either friends of mine or were people I interviewed for the book), but all have have delivered healthy babies after maintaining tight blood sugar control before and during their pregnancies.
If you want to have a child but don’t want to do it in your 20s, and your diabetes is under tight control while you’re trying to conceive, it should be possible, particularly if you are open to the possibility that you may need to talk to a doctor who specializes in infertility treatment. Typically, infertility is diagnosed if you’ve been actively trying to conceive for a year if you are under age 35, and for six months if you are 35 or older. Of course, there are other medical reasons that some people cannot conceive at all, that have nothing to do with diabetes, but that is a separate issue altogether.
Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby