Four Ways Hormones Affect Diabetes
From puberty and menstruation to birth control and menopause, hormonal changes can make it difficult for women to manage blood sugar.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, hormones play a part in blood glucose fluctuations. Understanding how different hormones affect your blood sugar can help you learn how to best manage your diabetes.
Puberty occurs in both men and women, typically between the ages of 9 and 16. While many hormones begin kicking in during puberty, one of the big ones is growth hormone.
Growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland of your brain. High levels of growth hormone can cause insulin resistance. 1 This creates difficulties in managing blood sugar during puberty, especially during growth spurts.
Other factors that impact diabetes during puberty include:
- Peer pressure
- Behavioral changes
- Changing sleep habits
- Increased appetite
Once a woman begins menstruating, hormones fluctuate with her monthly cycle. It’s common for women to notice changes in blood sugar levels based on where they’re at in their cycle.2
Many women report higher blood sugar levels on the days before their period. Others note that after their period starts, they have lower levels. Of course, hormone levels vary from woman to woman.
Stress is a normal part of life. It can happen at any time, especially during big events –– like when you’re welcoming a new baby, experiencing problems at work, or dealing with a death in the family.
The problem with stress is having too much of it. Stress causes the body to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol can make muscle and fat cells more resistant to insulin. It also enhances glucose production by the liver. Adrenaline also promotes sugar production in the liver.3
This means that when you’re under a lot of stress, the production of these hormones may make it harder to manage blood sugar. Some people require more insulin to manage their diabetes when going through periods of stress.
Certain types of birth control can affect blood sugar. Some women have found that a lower dose combination pill of estrogen and progestin may affect glucose levels.4
Checking blood sugar regularly and adjusting medications as needed can help resolve these fluctuations. However, some physicians may suggest progestin-only birth control to prevent blood sugar changes. Your healthcare team can help determine the best fit for you.