• Greta


Updated: Apr 2

A few things you should know!

I have had both diabetes and my period for several years and although I meet both gynaecologists and diabetologists on a regular basis, the topic of diabetes and menstruation has not been addressed once. I have seen a few very interesting postings on social media about how your menstruation can affect your blood sugar levels - but did you know, that type 1 diabetes can also have an impact on your period? Here are a few points which might be good to know for you as a type on diabetic or parent to a child with T1D.

Several studies suggest that type 1 diabetes is an independent risk factor for menstrual disturbances especially for young adults, which means that type one diabetes can be the cause for

  • a later menarche (first menstrual cycle / first menstrual bleeding)

  • longer menstrual cycles

  • longer periods

  • more and / or heavier menstrual disturbances

People whose T1D was diagnosed before their first menstrual bleeding and before the age of 10 are for example more likely to have a delayed menarche, which means that they might get their first menstrual bleeding later than the average age of 10-15 years. In this context, another correlation was found between a late menarche and menstrual disturbances - which means that the chance of disturbances is higher when the first period occurs later. People with type one diabetes are in general more likely to suffer from menstrual disturbances such as PMS, painful periods or menstrual cramps, Amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period) as well as heavy and long-lasting menstrual bleeding.

People with type 1 diabetes also often have both longer menstrual cycles and longer menstruations – this applies at least to those who do not use hormonal contraceptives. If you

are using the birth control pill for instance, there is a good chance that you will always get your period on the exact day – that’s how it has been for me at least. Birth control pills can also relieve painful menstrual cramps, so if you’re T1D and on hormonal contraceptives, these issues might not affect you as much.

Of course you can be diagnosed with type one diabetes before the age of 10 and get your first period just “on time” and maybe you’ve been living with both T1D and your period for several years without heavier disturbances - but it might be helpful to know that these two things can be connected.

Greta Ehlers is a type one diabetic with a passion for classical music and writing. She founded her blog and Instagram account gretastypeone to raise awareness about type one diabetes and everyday life with a chronic condition. Greta is currently studying a master's degree in Strategic Communication at Lund University, Sweden.

Yeshaya A , Orvieto R , Dicker D , Karp M , Ben-Rafael Z (1995): Menstrual characteristics of women suffering from insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Fertility and Menopausal Studies Vol. 40(5):269-273.

Cawood E. / Bancroft J. / Steel J. (1993): Perimenstrual Symptoms in Women with Diabetes

Mellitus and the Relationship to Diabetic Control. Diabetic Medicine Vol. 10(5):444-448.

Strotmeyer E. / Steenkiste A. / Foley T. / Berga S. / Dorman J. (2003): Menstrual Cycle

Differences Between Women With Type 1 Diabetes and Women Without Diabetes. Diabetes

Care Vol. 26(4):1016-1021.

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