For people with Type 1 diabetes, there are certain stages in life that can seem a bit more like a rollercoaster than others. In most cases, these ups and downs can be attributed to a shift in hormones. Major hormonal changes can be due to many things, such as puberty, menopause, menstrual cycle, stress and illness, to name a few.
Definitive correlations between hormones and blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivities and other possible Type 1 related side effects have been difficult to pinpoint thus far. Until more studies have been published about hormonal effects on T1D, there are things we can keep in mind based on the type of imbalance hormones can generally cause for T1D management.
Both men and women experience puberty, and it can occur anywhere between the ages of 9 and 16.
One of the primary hormones that kick in during puberty are growth hormones, and it has been noted by medical professionals that this kind of hormone can create insulin resistance. As a result, insulin requirements are often increased significantly during growth spurts.
Other things to keep in mind during puberty that can have an effect on T1D:
- Behavioral changes / Moodiness
- Body image issues
- Increase in appetite
- Peer pressure
- Changes in sleep habits
- More (or less) physical activity
Women often notice changes in their blood sugar levels depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. Many women have reported having abnormally high blood sugars the week before starting their period, and lower blood sugars in the few days following starting their period. It is important to note, however, that hormones fluctuate differently for each person – especially considering that women use all different kinds of birth control that can contribute to these fluctuations.
Not much is known in terms of how menopause effects women with Type 1 differently than women who do not have Type 1, but there are hormonal factors to be aware of when going through menopause, similar to going through puberty.
- Changes in progesterone and estrogen levels can have an effect on blood sugar control. Increases in estrogen has been known to make the body more insulin sensitive, while progesterone can increase insulin resistance.
- Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can cause weight gain.
- Hot flashes and moodiness are prominent side effects during menopause, and can be mistaken for a symptoms of a low blood sugar.
- Increased stress due to these new symptoms can cause blood sugar levels to rise.
Stress hormones can occur at any stage of our lives. Issues at work, major tests in school, moving, a death in the family, a new baby, or fighting with loved ones are all good examples of when stress hormones may rear their ugly heads.
The adrenaline and cortisol released during stress prompt the liver to release more glucose for energy, which can be excessively tricky for those with Type 1 as blood sugar levels often skyrocket.
Nobody’s body reacts the same way to all of the various strains of hormones, so it is important to pay close attention to your own blood sugar levels and insulin requirements during these specific times in our lives!