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How monitoring blood glucose can support fertility and PCOS

On a trip to the science museum during half term, I was reminded of how fortunate we are to have access to technology to support individuals trying to become parents. 

Through advances in the way we monitor blood glucose (the sugar in your blood), we now use continuous glucose monitors (CGM) on many of our clients.  

A CGM is a discreet device, typically worn on the arm or abdomen, which measures glucose levels continuously throughout the day and night.  These devices provide valuable insight into how different foods and lifestyle factors such as sleep can affect your glucose, and thereby the health of your reproductive system. 

So, what is the link between blood glucose and fertility and why is this important when trying to conceive? 

  • Sugar is a hormone disruptor and affects blood sugar balance, which can have a negative effect on your reproductive system. 

  • Some studies have shown that a diet lower in carbohydrate (sugar) and higher in protein, has been associated with improved pregnancy rates.

  • Many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have insulin resistance.  Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which plays a key role in maintaining normal blood glucose.  High insulin levels as a result of insulin resistance stimulates the ovaries to produce more androgen hormones which can lead to menstrual irregularity and infertility. Controlling glucose with the help of CGM is therefore particularly beneficial or women with PCOS, as this can help to prevent large fluctuations in glucose which increase insulin secretion.

  • PCOS is the leading cause of infertility and carries an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

  • Maintaining stable blood glucose can prevent sugar crashes and feeling ‘hangry’, which is particularly important if trying to lose weight. 

If you are trying to conceive naturally or going through IVF, optimising blood glucose is essential for increasing your chances of a successful pregnancy, especially if you have PCOS or diabetes.

Technology can be an empowering tool and along with the support of a dietitian, a route to personalising to your diet.