What is the Relation between Diabetes and the Female Reproductive System? – It is a known fact that diabetes has an adverse effect and causes complications in the process of reproduction for women. It will be incorrect to say that a diabetic woman cannot get pregnant at all. However, there are complications which do take place when a diabetic woman tries to give birth to a child. Following are a few adverse effects that do take place:
- Due to the high glucose level in the mother caused during diabetes, there is a huge possibility that the child so born happens to have birth defects as there is damage caused to the cells present in the embryo of the mother.
- Most of the times, a diabetic mother gives birth to a baby who has a larger baby. This is of great disadvantage to the mother as the delivery has to be through C-section which might cause some type of infection to the mother.
- There is a greater possibility that the mother who already is suffering from diabetes gets affected by gestational diabetes which, in turn, is known to cause adverse health effects to both the mother and the baby.
Besides, it is known that in the long run, diabetes affects the female genitals to a great extent. Hence, diabetes and fertility in women are related in a big way.
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How Does Diabetes Affect the Reproductive System?
The female reproductive factor is driven by insulin and the other growth factors. Insulin, along with glucose metabolism, help in the fertility and the related functions in a woman. This all-important hormone goes a long way in helping the mother’s ovary to grow as well as in the cyst formation. When a person has a normal delivery, insulin facilitates the pathway of the entire delivery process. Due to diabetes and the adverse effect of insulin, this particular pathway is affected. This, in turn, causes all sorts of problems in the delivery of the child when the mother is suffering from diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a sort of diabetes that develops in women at the time of her pregnancy. Like the other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes makes the blood glucose or sugar level to get too high. When a woman is pregnant, there is more demand for glucose as there is an increased need to provide nourishment to the child.Bust sometimes, the pancreas is unable to cope with the demand with the result that there is increase blood sugar in our body. This causes diabetes in an expecting mother.
Unlike type 1 and type 2 diabetes, this type of diabetes is not permanent and usually goes away after the baby is born. However, there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes for women who has suffered gestational diabetes before.
How Common is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes has become quite rampant these days, with every 1 in 20 women getting affected by the disease. The condition generally occurs between 24 and 28 weeks after you are into pregnancy and disappears after the baby is born.
Thus, there are 5 percent to 9 percent of the cases where a pregnant mother faces the problem of gestational diabetes.
What are the Reasons that Gestational Diabetes Lead to Type 2?
As seen above, gestational diabetes affects around 9 percent of all the pregnant woman. According to the American Diabetes Association, the chances of the women contracting type 2 diabetes after having suffered from gestational diabetes is somewhere around three to seven times more.
Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Although there are no particular symptoms of gestational diabetes, the few of the signs show up in the pregnant mother only gradually and over a period of time.
Few signs of the condition include the following:
- Increased thirst and urination.
- Late healing of sores
- Skin darkening
- Loss of appetite.
- Loss of weight in spite of taking any additional steps.
- Blurred vision or other eye-related problems.
As seen above, most of the symptoms of gestational diabetes reflect all those symptoms which are experienced in case of type 2 diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes Effects on Baby?
As mentioned above, gestational diabetes has adverse health effects on not only the mother but also the baby. The following are the conditions which gestational diabetes can cause on the baby:
- Premature Birth:
There is a high risk that the women suffering from the condition give birth to the child when his or her lungs are still developing. This, in turn, may cause problems related to the respiratory organs including conditions which might be as serious as respiratory distress syndrome. With premature birth, the baby is also exposed to getting jaundice soon after birth. Finally, there are greater chances of getting several health issues in the later stages of the child’s life in such circumstances.
When the mother suffers from diabetes, the high blood glucose present in the blood of the mother reaches the blood of the fetus through the placenta. This, in turn, stimulated the pancreas of the baby to increase the production of insulin. Excess production of the hormone leads to several problems in the growing up years of the child. Besides, the child also has excessive weight at the time of birth.
As seen above, the level of insulin in the newborn babies is extremely high. When a baby is born, the blood sugar level tends to decrease to a great extent due to the above reasons. Hence, the baby may be affected by hypoglycemia immediately after his or her birth.
- Disability to Learn:
Another adverse effect on the baby is the disability to learn like the other normal child when the mother is suffering from hypoglycemia. The reason for the same is, the body metabolizes fats so that energy can be obtained from some source or the other. The breakdown of essential chemicals may lead to mental disabilities caused in the baby. This, in turn, leads to a number of mental disabilities caused in the child so born.
- Type 2 Diabetes:
Since obesity and increased weight is one of the most common adverse effects of gestational diabetes on the child, the child is exposed to a higher risk of contracting type 2 diabetes later in his life.
- Other Effects on the Baby:
Some of the other adverse effects on the baby include:
- Gestational diabetes in mother increase the chances of stillbirth in the child.
- The baby might also experience low levels of important minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the body due to which there are other diseases and adverse conditions caused to the child.
What are the Complications of Gestational Diabetes?
As we know by now, gestational diabetes is a very complicated condition and can cause serious adverse effects on both the mother and the child. Following are a few related complications of the same:
- High blood glucose in the mother sends the signal to the pancreas of the child to release more of insulin.
- According to CDC, gestational diabetes can lead to overweight babies and in turn, increase the chance of their developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Birth trauma to the mother is another complication involved.
- Respiratory problems and jaundice are very common in newborn
- The mother who has suffered from the condition stands a huge chance of developing type 2 diabetes. The chances are 60 % higher than the healthy mothers.
What are the Available Treatments for Gestational Diabetes?
Diabetes in pregnancy can cause serious health damage to both the mother and the child and as such, the same should be treated in the most effective manner. Following are a few available treatments:
- Medicines and Drugs:
One of the most common ways to tackle diabetes is to take regular medicines and insulin shots as prescribed by the doctors.
- Exercise Regularly:
During pregnancy, it is advisable that the mother does at least 3 to 5 hours of exercise in a week’s time. With moderate exercise, the body is able to better use the insulin which, in turn, keeps the blood glucose levels under check. exercises such as swimming, walking, etc. are some which can be indulged in.
- Getting the Blood Sugar Levels Checked:
It is very important to keep the blood sugar levels under control. For attaining the same, it is mandatory that you get the same checked on a regular basis. Besides, you can also check the sugar level at home on a regular basis and ascertain that the blood glucose target is met.
- Maintaining Fetal Growth:
Fetal movements should be monitored and improved on a regular basis. The kick movements should also be measured on a regular basis and any irregularities should be reported.
- Gestational Diabetes Diet Plan:
Another important way to maintain the same is that you have a proper diet plan that helps to regulate and control your diet. The importance of diet has always been emphasized by doctors and experts all across and the same should be maintained in order to manage the condition effectively.
- Regular Medical Check Ups:
Regular medical check- ups are also of great importance to maintain a healthy and normal baby. Although gestational diabetes in the mother goes away shortly after birth, it exposes both the mother and the child to getting type 2 diabetes.
Managing Gestational Diabetes with Diet:
Diet, as we know, plays a huge role in managing any type of diabetes effectively. Similarly, managing gestational diabetes also comes after observing a proper healthy and nutritious diet plan.
Some guidelines include:
- Distributing the food you eat amongst a variety of minerals, calories, and carbohydrates go a great deal in managing gestational diabetes.
- As per the American Diabetes Association, it is important for you to reduce the portion sizes of your meal and eat around 4-5 meals in a day’s time.
- Slow eating is also one of the ways to ensure that no overeating is done and proper weight of the patient is maintained.
- Eat less of carbohydrates and more of fiber as fiber shall help you to feel fuller for a longer time with the result that you will not tend to overeat and put on weight.
- Make it a point to eat lean proteins along with carbohydrates in the meals you have during the day.
- It is not advisable to skip any of the meal that you have.
- Simple sugar containing food such as coke, sodas, flavored drinks, fresh juices, etc. should be curtailed as they contain just plain sugar and nothing else.
- Besides, limit the intake of milk as it contains lactose, which is just simple sugar. However, due to additional health benefits that milk has to offer, you should not curtail the entire consumption of the same.
- Finally, always make it a point to eat good and wholesome breakfast.
Hence, diet, in combination with the right amount and intensity of exercise will go a long way in treating gestational diabetes.
Conclusion: We hope that the above post has been helpful in educating you more about gestational diabetes and how the same can be treated and managed effectively. This post further emphasizesthe importance of treating and effectively managing gestational diabetes as the condition involves a lot of complications for both the mother and the child. It is hence imperative that due care is taken of both the expecting mother and her fetus while she suffers from the condition.After having read the article, we hope that necessary precautions will be taken and lifestyle shall be improved to avoid getting the disease!!