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Living with Diabetes

Diabetes and Women: How Hormones Affect Your Blood Sugar

3/8/2019 by mySugr

Diabetes and Women: How Hormones Affect Your Blood Sugar

All of you female monster tamers that there are many factors that can impact your blood sugar including stress, sleep, food, activity, medication, illness, and HORMONES. Hormones are sometimes overlooked, but can turn your blood sugar into a crazy roller coaster ride.

How Menstruation Affects Your Blood Sugar

Your menstrual cycle and fluctuations in your hormone levels have an impact on your blood sugar. Hello, extra challenge!

The amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone change a few days before the start of your menstrual period, often increasing blood sugar levels as a result. Learning more about your cycle and the fluctuations in hormones can help you manage your blood sugars throughout your menstrual cycle. Try tracking your menstrual cycle in your app to see how blood sugars and/or medications change over the month. 

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Pregnancy with Diabetes

Pregnancy and diabetes? Sounds like a challenge!

Even more drastically than during a menstrual cycle, hormone shifts during pregnancy can cause blood sugars to be less predictable. It's helpful to get to know the hormonal changes that happen within your body during the different stages of pregnancy – even before getting pregnant.

But, with a solid blood sugar management plan and the right therapy settings, there is absolutely nothing holding you back from a successful pregnancy while living with diabetes.

How Diabetes Affects Menopause

Sweating, rapid heartbeat and weight gain - the changes of menopause can often be unpleasant, but they are a fact of life! Menopause is reached when you haven't had a menstrual bleeding in the past 12 months. In total, menopause can last between 3 to 10 years. During this new phase of life, reduced estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries can cause a blood sugar rollercoaster.

Most women hit menopause around the age of 50, but women with diabetes can start menopause a few years earlier. This is because diabetes affects all metabolic processes, including female hormones. Estrogen directly affects insulin sensitivity in the cells and the lower your estrogen levels are, the more insulin resistant you become. So as you enter menopause, your insulin requirements can increase!

If women with diabetes around this age suddenly notice unexplained fluctuations in blood sugar, the onset of menopause could very well be the reason! In addition to estrogen production, progesterone also decreases during menopause. This can result in sleep disruption, mood swings, muscle and joint pain. This strains the body and can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause sugar levels to rise as well.

Menopause Starts Earlier Than You Think

Menopause doesn’t happen overnight, but rather it comes in a series of phases. The first phase is called Perimenopause. In perimenopause, the hormone production in the ovaries begins to slowly decrease and menstruation becomes irregular.

The hormonal shift in this early phase of menopause can actually trigger low blood sugars more often, especially at night. Of course, many women in perimenopause experience the typical “menopause symptoms” such as rapid heartbeat, sweating and hot flashes which can be mistaken for the symptoms of hypoglycemia. To be on the safe side, You may want to monitor your blood sugar more often.

mySugr Can Help

In order to tame the diabetes monster, it helps to monitor your blood sugar more frequently. Medications may need to be adjusted if you see patterns of glucose levels outside of your targets.

During periods of fluctuations in blood glucose levels, getting adequate exercise can help level them out a bit. Exercise can also reduce stress hormones and help combat some of the more common side effects of menopause like weight gain and increased LDL cholesterol levels. Bonus points for getting some fresh air, too! Paying extra attention to a healthy diet with lots of water also helps.

Another great help is to use the "tags" feature to document your mood in the mySugr app. This can help you understand the connection between blood sugar levels, mood and hormone fluctuations. This can help when working with your doctor to check for trends in your glucose levels!

We've created an infographic for you that shows you all possible challenges of the different phases in the life of a woman living with diabetes:

Graphic of different stages in life
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The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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