The menstrual cycle can make sugar levels harder to control. Keep reading to find out why, and my tips for diabetes control.
How does the menstrual cycle impact blood sugars
The majority of girls living with type 1 diabetes will notice that their blood sugars rise around 7-5 days before their period starts.
This is due to a rise in the hormone progesterone. Progesterone builds the lining of the uterus before it shed during the menses.
Progesterone increases blood glucose because it reduces insulin signalling (causing some insulin resistance), as well as increasing glucose release from the liver.
Blood sugars usually return back to normal within the first couple days of bleeding, due to the rise in oestrogen.
This is what happens to the majority of women, but some may find that their blood sugars are lower, or not impacted at all (this is quite rare).
How to support blood sugar balance during this phase
There are quite a few ways to support blood sugar balance during this time. We want to focus on promoting insulin sensitivity.
The first thing I recommend is to track your menstrual cycle. Take note of your cycle length (bleeding around every 28 days). Write a reminder in your diary a week to five days before so you expect to see your levels rise.
Now you will know why your blood sugars are being more difficult to control and you can implement some changes.
1.Adjust your insulin dose. – Look at your doses and slowly increase them if necessary. You’ll need to trial and error how much insulin you need, and whether increasing your basal or bolus works better for you.
*For example, a week before I’m expecting my period, I’ll increase all of my rapid doses by around 1-2 units. I have tried increasing my basal over a few days, but I find it sends me into a hypo. You have to juggle doses around, and stick to what works for you!
2. Watch your carbohydrate intake – Make sure you are paying extra attention to what type of carbs and how many carbs you are eating. Carb counting can come in very handy!
*For example, I notice if I eat more than 40-50g of carbs in one go, my sugars can get very stubborn. I also try to stick to complex carbs to avoid rapid blood sugar spikes.
3. Try to reduce stress levels – If we are stressed, the body will secret more cortisol, which can also cause blood glucose to rise. So prioritise time to rest and relax!
4. Walk! – Gentle forms of cardio will really help to promote insulin sensitivity. Go for a walk after your main meal in the evening. Walking outdoors also helps us to unwind and relax after a busy day.
If you have irregular periods it can be much harder to keep track of your sugar levels.
My best advice is to note down every time you have a period, and contact your doctor so they can help and advise you.
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