Women and Diabetes

This was two weeks ago, that I got a call from this lady who was very much concerned about her 20 years old daughter and her fluctuating blood sugar levels. As our conversation started, she told me that her present concern was her daughter’s high blood glucose (BG) levels after her menstrual cycle was over and I was absolutely clueless, as fluctuating BGs are very common before and during menstruation but not after that, there must be something else bothering her. So, I asked her to consult her Diabetologist to find out the reasons for her hyperglycemia and a Gynecologist (if required) to rule out other possibilities like PCOD. 

This call made me write this blog for all the newly diagnosed Type 1 girls out there! 

It is quite apparent that type 1 diabetes is a roller coster ride for everyone having this condition irrespective of the gender, but it is a challenge on another level for women. 

My Experience!

There are so many studies that I have read about women and type 1 diabetes, but I’ll be sharing what I have personally experienced for 27 long years.

As we all very well know that a women’s body is an ocean of hormones and the reason that type 1 diabetes is way more difficult for women than men, because every little hormone affects Blood Glucose levels differently.

I was diagnosed at the age of 6 years (Year 1993) and was very much unaware of the condition, as any other type1 kid. Gradually, I started understanding it and noticed some major changes as I attained puberty and was in a transition phase towards adolescence.

So, now comes the most challenging part in diabetes for me ‘as a woman’ and it is the menstruation. It is the time during every month that my numbers are very much unpredictable and difficult to control, which makes me irritable, lethargic and so much drained out of energy, other than PMS. It is roughly a span of 5-7 days which usually starts with PMS and ends within couple of days of menstruation, followed by the days when I really work up for my BG levels to be back in range.

During earlier years, it was very worrisome for me and every time I used to complaint to my diabetologist and he used to say that this is the problem with every type 1 girl and not to worry. Apart from this, another possibility he suspected was PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which is another common condition in females these days, but is more worrisome to the girls with type1 diabetes, but it was later ruled after he advised an abdominal sonography and it came out to be perfect.

How I manage?

  1. I usually start more of testing or scans during these days and adjust my bolus according to it.
  2. I may have to take some extra units of short acting insulin on some days.
  3. During early years, I consulted a gynecologist and asked for some anti spasmodic pills for menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea).
  4. I go for regular check ups for my Haemoglobin, Iron and Serum Ferritin levels, as I have a tendency to go low in my ferritin levels within a couple of years as a result of menorrhagia. So, I have added Serum Ferritin in my annual Diabetes Profile, and whenever test results show that I’ve a borderline level, I start with my Iron supplements intermittently.

My advice to all the fellow type1 girls is, take necessary medical advice from your diabetologist to manage your BGs during those days and gynecologist to rule out conditions like PCOS and manage wisely. 

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