How Your Monthly Cycle Affects Your Diabetes
You already know that your cycle affects your cravings, moods, and how you feel. But the hormonal changes that occur can affect your diabetes, too. Having diabetes may even result in some changes to your menstrual cycle.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it can contribute to a risk of unpredictable or irregular cycles.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes has been linked with menstrual problems like heavy menstruation, long menstruation, and longer cycles.1 It can also affect your reproductive years –– the years between your first period and when you go into menopause.
Researchers aren’t really sure why this happens. But studies show that some women with type 1 diabetes don’t get their first period until later in life.2 It seems especially true for girls who are diagnosed with diabetes when they are very young.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Women with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of anovulation –– which is when your ovary doesn’t release an egg.3 If this happens, you likely won’t have a period that month. Just remember, while the risk of anovulation is higher in women with type 2 diabetes, it doesn’t mean every woman will experience it.
The Cycle and Blood Sugar
Throughout the menstrual cycle, changing hormone levels can affect both blood sugar and insulin levels. After you ovulate, there’s usually an increase in the hormone progesterone. Higher levels of progesterone may cause increased insulin resistance.4
Because of this temporary insulin resistance, studies show that women often have higher blood glucose levels after ovulation.5
Some women with diabetes experience low blood sugar levels when they start their period, while others report high blood sugar levels during this time.6 Blood sugar levels usually go back to normal after their period. However, this may call for adjusting insulin doses.
The Link to Diabetes
Your menstrual cycle can affect your diabetes –– and irregularities in your cycle may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies show a potential link between having irregular or long menstrual cycles and the development of type 2 diabetes.7
Researchers think that hormonal imbalances may play a role in this link. Irregular periods are often a sign of higher insulin levels. This can eventually lead to insulin resistance.
Coping With Your Cycle and Diabetes
Many women find that how their cycle affects their diabetes can vary from month to month. It’s a good idea to keep a diary of blood sugar levels. This can help you find any patterns. If you find that your blood sugar goes high during or before your period, talk to your care team about increasing insulin doses or lowering your carb intake.