Approximately in a month-long cycle, a woman goes through hormonal fluctuations which then trigger ovulation and finally menstruation. The hormonal fluctuations can affect other body systems and functions as well as the reproductive system. Women living with diabetes many at times experience some unique menstrual challenges as a result of these complex hormonal interactions.
1. Controlling blood sugar may be difficult at times
The reason why your blood sugar may be more difficult to control as a diabetic especially closer to your period has to do with the hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle.
Roughly halfway through your menstrual cycle ovulation occurs. At this point your progesterone levels increase.
As per studies progesterone is associated with increased insulin resistance. This means that during the second half of your cycle after ovulation when your progesterone levels are naturally higher you will have some relative insulin resistance.
This resistance will result in more hyperglycemia episodes even if you are not changing your exercise and diet in any way.The same increase in progesterone can also cause you to have food cravings for simple carbohydrates and may cause you to lose your motivation to exercise.
Over time these episodes can lead to diabetes complications.
If you are living with diabetes, It is very important to be mindful of your diet and follow regular exercise.
2. Late Period, Early Menopause
If you are a type 1 diabetic it is likely that you experience a slightly shorter span of reproductive years compared to women without diabetes and even women who have type 2 diabetes.
Also despite improvements in diabetes management and glycemic control, studies support a delayed onset of menarche in type 1 diabetics.This is especially true the younger you are when diagnosed with type 1.
As per studies more than one-third of teenagers with type 1 diabetes will have irregular menstrual periods.
3. Weight Gain Can Cause Irregular Periods
Even though type 2 diabetes can also occur in women who are not overweight, it is likely that if you are living with type 2 you are struggling with your weight. Weight loss can be challenging but not impossible for women with diabetes type 2.
When you are overweight your excess fat or adipose tissue produces hormones which lead to an increase in your insulin resistance. This insulin resistance then triggers your pancreas to produce more insulin.
Although still unclear, these increased insulin levels interact with hormones that control your menstrual cycle.
When your cyclic hormonal fluctuations are interrupted, you won’t ovulate and if that happens then you will not have a regular period.
Your type 2 diabetes may be part of a condition called poly cystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. If you have PCOS, you are likely to have an imbalance in your ovarian hormone production. This imbalance prevents regular ovulation resulting in irregular cycles.
This condition is also associated with elevated levels of insulin because of underlying insulin resistance. Often, the more overweight you are, the less frequently you will have ovulation and the more irregular your periods will be.
Focus on practicing healthy and mindful eating and physical activity. Your calorie needs will fluctuate along with muscle mass so make sure to talk to your dietitian or medical adviser to guide you through your cycles.Also keep a tab on your blood sugar levels throughout your diabetes journey using a glucometer.