Can Type 2 Diabetes Impact Your Menstrual Cycle?
Last updated: November 2023
Hormones play an important role in type 2 diabetes. The body uses a hormone called insulin to help control the amount of sugar in the blood. Insulin helps sugar move into the cells so that it can be used as energy. If the body is consistently not making enough insulin or the cells stop responding to insulin, this can raise blood sugar levels and cause type 2 diabetes.1,2
Also, changes in hormones during a menstrual cycle can affect blood sugar levels.1,2
Diabetes and the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period. On average, a menstrual cycle is about 28 days long. The amount of certain hormones can increase or decrease as you go through a cycle. These hormones include estrogen and progesterone.1
A study that tracked the blood sugar levels of women during their menstrual cycle showed that their blood sugar levels were higher during the second half of the cycle. Experts believe this might be due to higher levels of progesterone during the second half of the cycle.1
Dealing with changing blood sugar levels during the menstrual cycle
Everyone’s menstrual cycle is different. Some people have a longer cycle than others. For some people, changes in estrogen and progesterone may not affect their blood sugar levels. Others might have to make some changes to keep their blood sugar levels within a healthy range during some parts of their cycle.3,4
To know how your changing hormones affect you, keep track of your blood sugar levels for a few months. If you notice a rise in blood sugar during certain parts of your cycle, it may be due to changes in hormones like progesterone. For most people who menstruate, a rise in blood sugar occurs a few days to a week before their period begins.3,4
Ask your doctor about ways to manage your blood sugar during the different parts of your menstrual cycle. These may include changes in lifestyle factors, such as diet or physical activity. If you are on insulin therapy, your doctor may suggest increasing the dosage during some parts of your cycle.3,4
Diabetes and irregular periods
There are other links between diabetes and the menstrual cycle as well. People with an irregularly long menstrual cycle are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. An irregular menstrual cycle may involve missing a period or a period coming later than expected. If you go 40 days or longer between periods, your cycle is considered irregular.2,3,5
An irregular menstrual cycle can be an early sign that you are at a higher risk for getting diabetes. On the other hand, if you already have type 2 diabetes, you are also more likely to have irregular or missed periods. And 1 study found that women who stop having periods before age 46 or after age 55 are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.2,3,5
Diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) causes changes in hormones that negatively affect the reproductive system. People with PCOS often have irregular periods and higher amounts of certain hormones. Likely for these reasons, PCOS is linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes.5
Talk to your doctor to learn more
There is a close link between type 2 diabetes and the menstrual cycle. Whether your blood sugar levels change during your period or you have irregular periods or PCOS, you may be at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Ask your doctor how your reproductive health may affect your risk for type 2 diabetes.
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