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Type 2 Diabetes and Perimenopause

As a woman diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a young twenty-nine years old, I missed the blood glucose swings of puberty that type 1 female peers experienced. As a woman who remained childless due to both circumstance and choice, I never knew the challenges of pregnancy with diabetes. I could commiserate with monthly ups and downs with menstruation, though it always seemed relatively minor to me when compared to the pain and fatigue of endometriosis.

Perimenopause and type 2 diabetes

One topic that has been brought forward into the spotlight lately amongst female peers with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, has been perimenopause and the changing hormones that create havoc with blood glucose levels.

Irregular menstruation brings on the unpredictability of when to expect the usually increased blood glucose spike of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). With my own type 2 diabetes, I used to be able to predict with decent accuracy how various foods would affect blood glucose levels. While eliminating most refined sugar and gluten has been a great help the past few months, even a meal heavy in non-starchy vegetables might cause a spike above 200 mg/dl depending on the time of the (irregular) month.

Low blood glucose and hot flashes

There is some suggestion that lower blood glucose can lead to hot flashes, which is another beast altogether. Often, hot flashes occur for me right before the usual lunch or afternoon snack time, and this requires a more regular eating schedule than ever before to avoid embarrassment at work.

With only being on metformin, low blood glucose is unlikely to cause any major issue; however, it is the combination of the higher highs of PMS and the lower lows associated with hot flashes that creates an issue new to me. Standard deviation of blood sugars within a day, week, and month has grown beyond the typical 20-30 mg/dl of the past – over 50 mg/dl is much more common these days. Another factor for me is the endometriosis mentioned earlier. Flare-ups happen more often these days, and it leads me to wonder if the interaction of hormonal changes in perimenopause and fluctuating blood glucose levels could both be contributing to this uptick in symptoms.

This all brings me back to the support of the women of the diabetes online community, along with peer support that organizations such as DiabetesSisters offer.* Regardless of the type of diabetes, we may feel the impact of perimenopause differently than women without diabetes. Having each other is important in dealing with this significant change in our lives.

*Disclosure: I am a volunteer local PODS leader with DiabetesSisters.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.