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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 out there probably noticed this already: besides stress, sleep, food, sports, medication, illness, and the 1000 additional factors influencing your blood sugar, there is one other thing that turns your blood sugar curve into an emotional rollercoaster ride. Have a guess, it’s those lovely hormones!

How Menstruation Affects Your Blood Sugar

Your menstrual cycle and fluctuations in your hormone levels that go along with it also have an impact on your blood sugar. Hello, extra challenge!

The concentration of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are higher than usual a few days before the start of your menstrual period (i.e. in the second phase), which can be seen in increased blood sugar levels.

Learning more about your cycle and the fluctuations in hormones can help you manage your blood sugar better throughout your menstrual cycle.  

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Pregnancy with Diabetes

Being pregnant with diabetes? Sounds like a challenge!

It’s very helpful to get to know and understand the female cycle and the hormonal changes that happen within your body during pregnancy - even before getting pregnant.

But, with good blood sugar management and the right therapy settings, there is absolutely nothing holding you back from getting pregnant while living with type 1 diabetes.

How Diabetes Affects Menopause

Sweating, rapid heartbeat and weight gain - the changes of menopause can often be unpleasant. Unfortunately, women with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, get to enjoy those changes even earlier than their non-diabetic counterparts. We are here to share why.

Menopause is defined as the very last menstrual period. This new phase of life is ushered in by the reduced estrogen production in the ovaries. In total, menopause can last between 3 to 10 years. Most women hit menopause around the age of 50, but women with diabetes can start menopause a few years earlier than those with a healthy metabolism.

And why? 

Diabetes affects all the metabolic processes in the body and therefore also impacts the female hormones. This can cause the ovaries to mature more quickly which leads to earlier onset menopause.

Hormones Affect Everything

If women with diabetes suddenly notice unexplained fluctuations in blood sugar, the onset of menopause could well be the reason!

Estrogen directly affects insulin sensitivity in the cells and the lower your estrogen levels are, the more insulin resistant you become. Thus as you enter menopause, your insulin requirements can increase!  

In addition to estrogen production, progesterone also decreases during menopause. This results in sleep disorders, mood swings, muscle and joint pain. This strains the body and triggers the stress hormone cortisol to rise which further impacts blood sugar levels. 

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 as fertility declines. 

The hormonal shift in this early phase of menopause can trigger hypoglycemia 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 mimic the symptoms for hypoglycemia. So to be on the safe side, you need to be prepared to check your blood sugar more often!

mySugr Can Help

In order to tame the diabetes monster a little better in this phase, it helps to control the blood sugar more often and to consciously adjust the insulin dose more frequently. 

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

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 and hormone fluctuations as well. This can help when working with your doctor to check for trends in your glucose levels! The most important thing is not to be frustrated by bad values ​​- because menopause is a phase and it does come to an end.

 

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:

Diabetes In Every Stage of Life Infographic
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