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Managing Blood Sugar Levels during Menstruation

Written byNikhil Ambatkar

Last updated on : 04 Mar, 2024

Read time : 12 min

Diabetes and periods are two challenging health issues that can significantly impact a woman’s life. Managing both of these conditions can be tricky, and difficult to navigate the hormonal challenges that often come with them. 

As researchers search deeper into this connection, they uncover potential links between diabetes and periods, shedding light on how blood sugar levels and hormonal fluctuations might intertwine. Exploring this dynamic interplay can provide valuable insights into managing the health of both diabetes and menstruation, offering a more comprehensive understanding of the body’s intricate workings.

This article will explore the challenges of managing diabetes and periods and provide tips to help women navigate the hormonal challenges of both conditions. It will also discuss the significance of regular check-ups with your healthcare provider and lifestyle changes to help manage your diabetes.

Also read: Facts about Menstruation

Diabetes and periods 

Diabetes is a long-lasting condition affecting how your body uses glucose, while periods refer to the monthly menstrual cycle women experience. For women with diabetes, hormonal changes during menstruation can lead to changes in blood sugar, making it challenging to maintain stable glucose levels. 

These conditions can also lead to other complications, such as mood swings, fatigue, and depression. As a result, women with diabetes often face unique challenges when managing their menstrual cycle and blood sugar levels. 

Understanding the impact of menstrual hormones on blood sugar and vice versa is crucial for effective diabetes management. 

How do menstrual hormones affect blood sugar levels?

A week before a woman’s period, her hormones change, making her body less responsive to insulin. Insulin helps control blood sugar, but it doesn’t work as effectively during this time. When the period starts, blood sugar levels may decrease slightly.

Also read: Foods to Manage Diabetes

How does diabetes affect the menstrual cycle?

There are several ways in which diabetes may have an impact on two things: blood sugar and menstrual cycle. Variations in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can affect hormone levels, leading to irregular periods or, in some cases, a complete absence of periods altogether. Elevated blood sugar levels can disrupt the hormonal balance for a healthy, consistent menstrual cycle. Fluctuations in low blood sugar on period can lead to symptoms like fatigue and irritability.

Furthermore, women with diabetes may experience menstrual irregularities due to factors such as nerve damage or circulation problems that can affect reproductive organs. Therefore, these women must control their blood sugar levels to promote a healthy menstrual cycle. Women navigating diabetes and menstruation can benefit from open communication with healthcare providers to develop personalised care plans.

How does the menstrual cycle affect diabetes?

Changes in a woman’s hormonal levels during her menstrual cycle can impact the management of diabetes. During this time, fluctuations in blood sugar levels can be expected due to hormonal changes. It is common for women to experience higher blood sugar levels leading up to their period, which can be attributed to increased insulin resistance. 

On the other hand, when menstruation begins, blood sugar levels may drop, requiring adjustments in diabetes medication or insulin dosages to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the period.

Also read: How to Get Regular Periods Naturally?

What are the best ways to manage diabetes during the menstrual cycle?

Let’s look at the best ways to manage diabetes during your menstrual cycle.

1) Monitor your blood sugar levels closely

It is crucial to note your blood sugar levels consistently to detect any changes and adapt your diabetes care plan accordingly.

2) Adjust your insulin doses as needed

It’s essential to talk with your doctor to evaluate whether any modifications to your insulin dosage are required during your menstrual cycle. Increasing or decreasing your insulin intake may be necessary, depending on your blood sugar levels.

3) Eat a healthy diet

Maintain a well-rounded diet that includes various nutrient-dense edibles. Prioritise the consumption of carbohydrates, low-fat proteins, wholesome fats, and abundant fresh veggies. Avoid excessive indulgence in sugary edibles and beverages.

4) Exercise regularly

Engage in regular exercise as it helps improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Choose activities you enjoy and aim for aerobic exercise and strength training.

5) Reduce stress

The impact of stress on blood sugar should be considered. Exploring practical stress management techniques like indulging in hobbies, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or practising relaxation techniques to alleviate stress levels is wise. These activities can be highly effective in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

How can I prepare for insulin resistance during my menstrual cycle?

To prepare for insulin resistance during your menstrual cycle, follow these steps:

Step 1: Track your cycle

Maintaining a log of your menstrual cycle could be beneficial to detect trends and predict the onset of insulin resistance. Note the beginning and conclusion of your menstrual cycle and any symptoms before menstruation.

Step 2: Study your blood sugar pattern

Throughout your menstrual cycle, keeping a close watch on your blood sugar levels by taking blood sugar tests during periods and noting any fluctuations is crucial. Pay attention to any significant shifts or patterns in your readings.

Step 3: Adjust your insulin doses (with your doctor’s help)

Working closely with your doctor is essential to fine-tune your insulin doses according to your blood sugar patterns. By engaging in a collaborative approach with your healthcare provider, you can gain the necessary insights required to make informed decisions about any alterations that may need to be made to your insulin regimen.

What to eat for better blood sugar balance during the period?

Focusing on a healthy and well-balanced diet is essential to maintain your blood sugar during your period. Here are some dietary tips:

What to eat for better blood sugar balance during the period
  • Choose complex carbohydrates: Consider incorporating whole grains such as brown rice, wheat bread, and quinoa into your diet. These carbohydrates are abundant in fibre and can effectively assist in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Include protein: Eating foods that are high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and tofu, can help in stabilising blood glucose levels and sustaining energy throughout the day.
  • Add healthy fats: Healthy fats can do wonders for your health. Consider incorporating sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, as they can help regulate blood sugar levels and slow down carbohydrate digestion. It’s a simple and effective way to improve your overall well-being.
  • Eat fibre-rich foods: Including a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, and legumes in your daily dietary routine can positively impact your overall health. These foods are all fibre-rich, which can facilitate the digestive process and assist in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid sugary foods and refined carbohydrates: It is advisable to limit the intake of sugary snacks, candies, sodas, and foods that are rich in white flour, as they can lead to a sudden increase in blood sugar levels.
  • Stay hydrated: Consuming adequate water throughout the day is vital for maintaining proper hydration levels and promoting optimal health.

Conclusion

Women need to understand that low blood sugar during a period is not a diabetic condition, nor do high blood sugar. If you already have diabetes, these changes in sugar levels might happen.

Managing diabetes and periods can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that navigating these challenges with the right strategies and support is possible. Understanding the interplay between diabetes and menstruation is crucial for maintaining overall well-being in women with diabetes.

Regular check-ups with healthcare professionals can help identify potential issues early on, and implementing healthy habits such as regular exercise and a well-rounded diet can also help manage symptoms. By taking proactive steps and staying informed, women can manage both their diabetes and menstruation to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

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Frequently asked questions

Is it possible to undergo blood tests during menstruation?

Yes, it is possible to undergo blood tests during menstruation. Menstruation does not generally interfere with the accuracy of blood tests. However, specific tests may be influenced by hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, so discussing any concerns with your healthcare provider is essential.

Can diabetes contribute to irregular periods?

Yes, diabetes can contribute to irregular periods. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to menstrual irregularities.

Can diabetes lead to missed periods?

Individuals with diabetes can experience missed periods. It can happen due to various aspects, including uncontrolled diabetes, insulin resistance, and hormone imbalances. When these issues arise, they can disrupt the typical pattern of menstrual cycles, leading to missed periods and other complications.

Can high insulin levels cause irregular periods?

Yes, high insulin levels can cause irregular periods. Insulin plays a role in regulating hormonal balance, and when insulin levels are elevated, it can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle.

Is insulin sensitivity affected during the luteal phase?

Insulin sensitivity may vary during different phases of the menstrual cycle. Generally, insulin sensitivity may decrease during the luteal phase (after ovulation), leading to potential fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

How can blood sugar be tracked during the menstrual cycle?

Blood sugar can be tracked during the menstrual cycle by regularly monitoring blood glucose levels using a glucose meter. Keeping a record of blood sugar readings throughout the cycle can help identify patterns and make any necessary adjustments to diabetes management.

How does menstruation impact type 2 diabetes?

Menstruation can impact type 2 diabetes by influencing insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can lead to increased insulin resistance, making it more challenging to manage blood glucose levels effectively.

Is there a link between type 1 diabetes and menstruation?

Yes, there is a link between type 1 diabetes and menstruation. Women with type 1 diabetes may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, including irregular periods or a disruption in the timing of their periods.

Why does blood sugar tend to rise before or during periods?

Blood sugar tends to rise before or during periods due to hormonal fluctuations, particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes can affect insulin sensitivity, leading to higher blood sugar levels.

Is there a link between irregular periods, diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Yes, there is a link between irregular periods, diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a condition characterised by hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance and often presents irregular periods. Women diagnosed with PCOS are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Can hormonal birth control help regulate periods in women with diabetes?

Hormonal birth control can help regulate periods in women with diabetes. Specific forms of hormonal contraception, such as combination birth control pills, can regulate menstrual cycle and improve hormonal balance. However, discussing the options and potential effects with your healthcare provider is essential.

Are there any lifestyle factors that contribute to irregular periods in women with diabetes?

Certain lifestyle factors can contribute to irregular periods in women with diabetes. These may include poor diet, lack of physical activity, stress, and inadequate diabetes management. A healthy lifestyle, including a well-rounded diet, regular exercise, stress management, and proper diabetes care, can help promote regular menstrual cycles.

Disclaimer 

The content provided within this article has been thoroughly verified for accuracy. However, we advise consulting a healthcare professional before utilising any medication or dietary supplements mentioned herein.

References

  • DS; LA. Fertility issues in women with diabetes [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19863473/ 
  • Shim U, Oh J-Y, Lee HJ, Hong YS, Sung Y-A. Long menstrual cycle is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus in Korean women [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2011 [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178699/ 
  • Gorczyca AM, Sjaarda LA, Mitchell EM, Perkins NJ, Schliep KC, Wactawski-Wende J, et al. Changes in macronutrient, micronutrient, and food group intake throughout the menstrual cycle in healthy, premenopausal women [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2016 [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6257992/  
  • Kwan B-S, Kim S-C, Jo H-C, Baek J-C, Park J-E. The association between menstrual irregularities and the risk of diabetes in premenopausal and postmenopausal women: A cross-sectional study of a nationally representative sample [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9032389/ 
  • Gamarra E, Trimboli P. Menstrual cycle, glucose control and insulin sensitivity in type 1 diabetes: A systematic review [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9962060/ 
  • Barata DS, Adan LF, Netto EM, Ramalho AC. The effect of the menstrual cycle on glucose control in women with type 1 diabetes was evaluated using a continuous glucose monitoring system [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2013 [cited 2023 Jun 17]. Available from: ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3631835/
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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.

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