woman measuring her blood sugar levels during her period
Whether you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, or have been living with diabetes your whole life, it’s important to understand how your condition can affect your hormones and other body processes. Doctors often tell us how to be healthy. They tell us how to eat, when to exercise and what medications to avoid. But what are they not telling us?

Can Diabetes Affect Your Period?

If you are a woman living with diabetes, you may be wondering how your diabetes may affect your menstrual cycle and overall uterine health. During menstruation, the fluctuation of various hormones often causes a rise in blood-sugar levels. This can lead to hyperglycemia if not managed and monitored properly. Hyperglycemia is very serious as it can cause damage to the blood vessels when left untreated.

Changes in your hormone levels before and during your period can often make blood sugar levels difficult to predict. In addition, your diabetes symptoms, may cause you to miss other important period changes that could indicate an underlying condition.  You may also have longer or heavier periods, and food cravings can make managing diabetes harder. As you learn more about your condition and reproductive health, you may notice a pattern over time. You should track this pattern to notice any changes over time.

It’s important to talk to your doctor. They can properly advise how much insulin to take before or during your period. They will also determine what needs to change compared to your regularly scheduled dosage.

Period and Diabetes Facts You’ll Want to Know

  • About 15 million women in the U.S. has diabetes
  • Diabetes can increase the likelihood that you’ll develop a yeast infection or urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Both managed and un-managed diabetes can lead to a decreased libido for women
  • Gestational diabetes affects 2 to 10 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. each year
  • Menopause can make managing your diabetes more difficult

Periods for Type 1 vs Type 2

Usually blood sugar levels will start to rise about three to five days before menstruation.  These levels often affect the frequency and length of your period. One-third of all female teenagers with type 1 or 2 diabetes have reported a higher risk for experiencing irregular periods. Women with diabetes may also experience irregularly long periods.

Your period and diabetes can also impact your overall health. Overweight women with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and endometrial cancer. This is why it’s so important to monitor blood-sugar levels throughout the month if you are overweight, type-2 diabetic, and have not yet gone menopausal.

If you have type 1 diabetes, blood-sugar levels brought on by menstruation can be quite manageable. The insulin pump allows you to alter the dosage of insulin delivered based on your levels. With an insulin pump you can even set it to automatically alert you when to adjust your insulin dose based on a rise or fall in your blood-glucose levels. Unfortunately, for women with type 2 diabetes that take insulin pills, it can be more difficult to manage because the dosage of the pills cannot be adjusted.

Diabetes and The Menstrual Cycle: When to Worry

Being a diabetic woman really just means that you should monitor your blood sugar levels more closely. Especially around that time of the month. This is to ensure you’re getting the proper amount of insulin and that you are not at risk of going hyperglycemic. Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your pancreas cannot adjust your blood-glucose levels on its own. This is why you either take insulin injections or medicine that helps your body use the insulin it produces. For women that are not diabetic, their blood-glucose levels can also fluctuate, but since their pancreas is relatively healthy, they are able to produce insulin to control blood sugar naturally and involuntarily.

Many women, diabetic or non-diabetic, can experience intense cravings during their period. For most women the only concern is waking up with a few extra zits in the morning as a result of the excess sugar consumed the day before. But if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes, its important that you indulge in cravings in moderation to prevent dramatic spikes in blood-sugar levels.

Constant observation of blood-glucose levels will increase your awareness of how your body reacts to the hormones that menstruation and ovulation cause, while also putting you one step ahead those uncomfortable side effects of hyperglycemia.

Why Listening to Your Body Is Key

Due to the fluctuations in blood sugar, as well as how this interferes with hormone levels, diabetes could potentially mask underlying conditions like uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, PCOS, or endometriosis. Diabetes can lead to heavier or longer periods, urinary urgency, period irregularity, or fatigue. These are also symptoms commonly associated with uterine fibroids. It’s important to write down your symptoms, so you can discuss them at length with your doctor. They will be able to determine if additional tests like an ultrasound or pelvic examination are necessary.

Listening to your body and knowing what is normal for you is important when you are a woman living with diabetes. If you think your symptoms may not be caused by diabetes, it’s important to mention this to your doctor. Your doctor won’t know if your symptoms are being caused by your diabetes or by another uterine condition if you aren’t able to describe them accurately. This is why tracking any changes is so vital.

Treatment for Uterine Fibroid Symptoms

If you think your diabetes isn’t the only condition causing your irregular periods, urinary urgency, or fatigue, it’s important to inform your doctor. These symptoms are often caused by uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that develop within the uterine cavity or walls.

At our fibroid centers, we exclusively offer a non-surgical, outpatient treatment known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) to treat uterine fibroid symptoms. UFE utilizes a minimally-invasive technique to interrupt the blood flow to the fibroids, which will cause the fibroids to shrink. Once the fibroid does not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive, it will naturally die off. This often leads to diminished symptoms.

With up to 30 treatment facilities across the nation, we are currently the largest network of fibroid centers in the United States. Our leading Interventional Radiologists utilize the most advanced technology to treat uterine fibroids. If you are experiencing heavy, irregular periods, urinary urgency, fatigue from anemia, pelvic pain or cramping, call us at 855.615.2555 to find out how we can help begin your recovery.

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