March 28, 2024

Navigating Type 1 Diabetes & the Menstrual Mystery—a 17-Year-Old’s Guide.

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Hey there, fellow diabetes warriors!

I’m back with another dose of real talk about life with type 1 diabetes. Today’s topic is often overlooked but critical, considering it affects half of any affected population. The not-so-secret, often confusing, and sometimes downright frustrating relationship between type 1 diabetes and menstruation.

As a 17-year-old navigating this roller coaster myself, this is a topic close to my heart.

Let’s clear up some myths first.

No, your period isn’t “causing” your diabetes (sorry, blame the autoimmune party), and no, you don’t have to become a hermit during that time of the month. But here’s the thing: hormones, those ever-shifting beings, can definitely play ping-pong with your blood sugar levels. So, understanding this connection is key to conquering those “shark week” blood sugar spikes and dips.

The Cycle of Change:

Our menstrual cycles are like mini hormonal symphonies, each phase bringing its own unique melody. Here’s how they can affect your blood sugar:

Pre-Menstrual Phase (PMS, anyone?): Estrogen dips, progesterone rises, and bam! Your body becomes more insulin-resistant. This can lead to higher blood sugar levels, even with the same insulin dose. Don’t panic. Be extra vigilant with monitoring, adjust your insulin as needed, and remember, you’re not alone in the PMS struggle.

Menstruation: Ah, the main event. Estrogen and progesterone levels are low, and sometimes, blood sugar levels follow suit. But don’t be surprised if they go up instead. It’s all about keeping an eye out and adjusting accordingly.

Post-Menstrual Phase: Hormone levels stabilize, and usually, so do your blood sugar levels. It’s a good time to reflect on how your cycle impacted your management and adjust your approach for the next month.

Remember: Every girl is different. Some experience minimal changes, while others face significant fluctuations. Track your cycle and blood sugar levels to identify your personal patterns and learn how to adjust your management accordingly.

Tools to manage the ride:

Here are some awesome tools to equip yourself with to manage your menstrual cycle with type 1 diabetes confidence:

Communication is key: Talk to your doctor about your specific experiences and concerns. They can help you create a personalized management plan for your cycle.

Embrace the tech: Utilize apps and trackers to monitor both your cycle and blood sugar levels. Seeing the patterns can be incredibly empowering.

Fuel your body wisely: Choose balanced meals with complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats. Avoid sugary treats and processed foods, especially during PMS when cravings hit hard.

Move your body: Exercise helps regulate hormones and improve insulin sensitivity. Find activities you enjoy, whether dancing, swimming, or a brisk walk with friends. I cannot overemphasize the importance of movement and exercise on both type 1 diabetes and menstrual symptoms.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Water is your best friend, especially during your period when dehydration can mess with your blood sugar. Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere!

Stress less, chill more: Stress can wreak havoc on your hormones and blood sugar—practice relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to stay zen.

Sleep is your superpower: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. It helps regulate hormones and keeps your energy levels stable.

Connect with your group: Talk to other young women with type 1 diabetes about their experiences. Sharing and learning from each other can be incredibly helpful and supportive.

Finally, remember, you are not alone in this. There will be days when managing your diabetes and your period feels like juggling flaming chainsaws, but you’ve got this. Embrace the journey, experiment, find what works for you, and celebrate every victory, big or small. Remember, you are a warrior, and you have the power to navigate these waves with grace and strength.

Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Share your story, advocate for yourself, and help break the stigma around type 1 diabetes and periods. You are a powerful voice, and your experiences can inspire others.

PS. Feeling overwhelmed? Check out these amazing resources:

Beyond Type 1

American Diabetes Association

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Now go forth, conquer those cycles.


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