February 2, 2001
Complications, Genetics and Heredity
Question from India:
I am a 23 year old girl, whose my parents are considering my marriage with a 28 year old guy. We found out after one month that he has type 1 diabetes and has been taking insulin for eight years. His mother’s side of the family has a strong history of type 2 diabetes, and he is the only one with type 1.
We are in love with each other. He says he takes care of his diet, exercises, regularly checks his diabetes, and visits doctors. My parents are very concerned and do not want me to consider him anymore.
How does type 1 diabetes affect impotency, fertility, and sex life? What are the chances of passing it on to our kids?
As a physician who treats patients with diabetes, my feeling is that people who have this disease can lead happy, healthy, successful lives. However, they will have to take care of themselves and spend additional time doing so. Most long-term complications are related to duration of diabetes and the level of metabolic control that has existed over the course of their disease. For example, individuals who take good care of themselves tend to be much healthier than those who do not. You will have to discuss these issues between yourselves and decide whether your significant other is taking care of himself. Along these lines, I would suggest you seek out additional information about diabetes. Information is available from the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and other organizations which will help you understand more about what is involved with diabetes and how to care for it.
Without knowing your boyfriend, I am not able to say whether he takes good care of himself. I am also not able to predict whether he will have problems with impotency. Impotency occurs when diabetes damages the nerves that are required for producing an erection. However, there are methods of treating this problem, even if it develops.
With regard to whether your children are at risk, there is some information regarding this. Type�1 (autoimmune) diabetes is less likely to be passed on to children than type�2 diabetes. However, there is about a 10% chance of offspring developing the disease if the father has type 1 diabetes.