Causes & Treatment

Blood sugar and fertility: 5 ways balancing your levels can support your TTC journey

Emma Harpham and Emily Johnson, MS, RD and Research Lead at Veri  |   10 Jan 2024

Blood sugar and fertility – is there really a link? 

If you’ve been trying to conceive (TTC) for any length of time, it won’t be news to you that diet plays a considerable role when it comes to boosting your personal fertility profile. 

But what about blood sugar, also known as blood glucose? How much can it really impact our fertility – and how much should we care, if our levels are low, or high? 

A registered dietitian breaks down blood sugar and fertility

We’ve teamed up with Emily Johnson, MS, RD and Research Lead at Veri, the program that combines your continuous glucose monitor data with behavior-change psychology and health science to guide you on your fertility journey.

We chat through all things blood sugar and fertility, and how bringing your levels into balance can help support your journey to conception.

Read on as she covers off:

  • The blood sugar and fertility connection
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels and who might benefit
  • How balancing your levels can support your fertility
  • Next steps for understanding your levels

Before we jump in – you can get $30 off your first month of Veri here with the code: VSM-THERIBBONBOX.

Now, over to Emily.

The blood sugar and fertility connection

In short, high blood glucose levels are associated with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, and other health conditions.

These health conditions can disrupt the delicate hormone balance needed for successful ovulatory function in women, as well as sperm count and motility in men. 

How can monitoring blood glucose levels help us optimize fertility?

Research shows that improving insulin sensitivity leads to better fertility outcomes

Using a tool like a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, which tracks your glucose levels in real-time, coupled with glucose-stabilizing lifestyle interventions like proper nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and quality sleep, can help increase fertility and conception rates in both men and women. 

Women who focus on healthier diet choices and increasing physical activity have been shown to have improved insulin sensitivity and a better chance of conception, regardless of weight loss. 

Men who are more physically active produce healthier semen and have an anabolic hormonal balance that promotes fertility. 

Who can benefit from continuous glucose monitoring? 

People who have been struggling to conceive may be interested in doing a deeper dive into their metabolic health with a glucose monitoring program like Veri, especially those who have a history of metabolic issues, like overweight, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and low HDL.

blood glucose monitoring for fertility and conception

5 ways balancing your blood sugar can directly support your fertility

Balancing your blood glucose levels can help lower the risk of insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and other metabolic conditions that disrupt hormonal balance, regular menstrual cycles, and ovulation – all of which are critical for fertility. 

Here are the main ways to know.

1. Supporting weight management

High blood sugar and insulin resistance can lead to persistent weight gain

Research indicates that women who are overweight or obese produce higher levels of estrogen and lower levels of progesterone than women with lower BMIs. This imbalance of crucial female sex hormones can lead to irregular ovulation cycles, make ovulation less likely to happen each month, and make it hard for sperm to reach the egg. 

Obesity is also an established risk factor for miscarriage

In fact, women who have a BMI greater than 27 are 3 times less likely to get pregnant than women with a healthy body weight. Metabolic syndrome, which is marked by high blood sugar levels, is also associated with PCOS, which causes an irregular menstrual cycle, preventing ovulation from occurring regularly.

2. Boosting hormone health

Chronically elevated glucose levels can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where your cells stop responding properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance is associated with several poor metabolic health outcomes, including weight gain and type 2 diabetes. 

Weight gain due to insulin resistance can trigger the production of more estrogen, a female reproductive hormone, which throws off your body’s carefully balanced ratio of estrogen to testosterone. 

It can also cause inflammation throughout the body, which can affect the reproductive system, specifically the function of the ovaries and testes (the main organs that produce sex hormones). 

In women, insulin resistance can lead to ovulatory dysfunction, PCOS, and infertility, while in men it can lead to lower total testosterone concentration and decreased sperm count and motility.

3. Managing PCOS

Women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of androgens (male sex hormones), which can contribute to insulin resistance. 

Androgen excess can impact fertility in women by interfering with their ability to get pregnant in several ways. 

It causes an irregular menstrual cycle, preventing ovulation from occurring regularly; it also makes it less likely that an egg will be produced when you do ovulate because your body produces fewer follicles each month; lastly, it can decrease the likelihood of successful fertilization of the egg by sperm.

blood sugar and fertility consulation

4. Optimizing egg (and sperm) quality

High blood sugar levels can cause oxidative stress in the body, which can damage reproductive cells.

In women, elevated blood sugar levels may adversely affect egg quality, diminishing the prospects of successful conception. A study has shown a link between the amount of sugar consumed by women in the months preceding an IVF cycle, and a decline in the quality of their eggs.

In men with elevated blood sugar, an increase in sperm DNA damage was observed. 

5. (Potentially) supporting embryo implantation 

High blood sugar levels create an unfavorable environment in the uterus, making it less receptive to an implanting embryo and potentially increasing your risk of miscarriage. 

While more research is needed, this may be due to the inflammatory response and hormonal imbalances caused by high glucose levels.

Blood sugar and fertility – next steps

So, which steps can you take at home today, towards getting your blood glucose levels in balance?

  1. Be mindful of what you’re eating (and when!) – Smaller, more balanced meals eaten frequently throughout the day can help keep your metabolism steady.
  2. Think physical activity – Aim for a combination of aerobic exercises like brisk walking or cycling, and strength training to promote better blood sugar control.
  3. Explore glucose monitoring – Using a continuous glucose monitor which tracks your glucose levels in real-time can be a really useful tool, especially when coupled with real-time, glucose-stabilizing lifestyle changes. 

Veri’s four-stage program makes balancing your glucose levels simple. 

You’ll wear a glucose monitor for 14 days, discover your glucose response to your diet and lifestyle, and learn how you can improve with personalized guidance and daily, tailored recommendations.

Don’t forget – you can grab an exclusive $30 off your first month of Veri to get you started, with the code: VSM-THERIBBONBOX.

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