Health

How does diabetes affect the menstrual cycle?

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Have diabetes? You should know that it can impact your menstrual cycle, causing it to be irregular.

Diabetes is a condition in which there is too much glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. Over time, diabetes or high blood glucose levels can damage the body’s organs. Possible long-term effects include damage to large and small blood vessels which can lead to health toubles like heart attack and stroke, or even problems with kidneys, gums, eyes, feet, nerves, and menstrual cycle. 

Yes ladies, you heard it right. Your unbalanced sugar levels can impact your menstrual cycle. To better understand the link between period and diabetes, and when to consult with a doctor, HealthShots spoke to Dr Sweta Budyal, Senior  Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai. 

diabetes and period
Diabetes also causes menstrual cycle concerns. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The link between diabetes and period

The connection between diabetes and period is bidirectional. Diabetes may cause unusual changes to the menstrual cycle. Likewise, the hormonal changes that happened throughout the menstrual cycle can affect a person’s diabetes. It appears that an irregular menstrual cycle is not only a side effect of diabetes but also likely to play a role in affecting blood sugar levels. Which means that it is a vicious cycle. 

Diabetes can cause irregular menstrual cycle

Women with diabetes are at higher risk of menstrual abnormality due to hormonal disruption. Dr Budyal says, “Women with type 2 diabetes are more likely to be obese and at higher risk of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). As a result, they are at higher risk of irregular periods, scanty flow, and abnormal hair growth over the face and other body parts.” 

In addition, women with diabetes are at risk of developing a condition called anovulation. This indicates that ovulation, the process where the ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube is not happening. Ovulation is required for pregnancy and no ovulation means it can make it harder to get pregnant. 

How do periods affect your diabetes

Are you wondering why your blood sugars are off when you aren’t doing anything differently than you did last week? Well, the reason why your blood sugar may be more difficult to control the closer you get to your periods has to do with the hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle. 

Also, read: Do periods mess with your digestion? Rely on these expert tips

Dr Budyal says, “Menstrual cycles can affect blood glucose, especially in type 1 diabetes patients. An increase in progesterone levels in the later half of the menstrual cycle can affect the way Insulin works in our body and can cause an elevation in blood glucose. Also, some women may experience cravings around periods.”

diabetes and period
Yes, diabetes can impact your periods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Other factors

Obesity and type 2 Diabetes together are also risk factors for endometrial (uterine) cancer. Hence, a sudden and unusual change in the pattern of the menstrual cycles needs to be evaluated more seriously in these women. Also, the rate of depression and anxiety is higher in women with diabetes and these individuals may experience greater mood changes around the time of period.

What can you do if you have irregular menstrual cycle and diabetes?

Any abnormal pattern of periods should be discussed with your doctor. “The chances of anovulation in obese and PCOS patients with diabetes can be reduced by healthy diet, regular physical activity and weight management. It is important to monitor blood glucose, mood, and eating-related patterns with respect to menstrual cycles,” suggests Dr Budyal. 

Also, women with type 1 Diabetes may need to adjust their Insulin doses around the time of periods.

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