Now that I am slowly getting back on track with my periods after being pregnant and then nursing for 18 months, I have been reminded of the havoc caused by my period on my blood sugars. In the former Diabetes Education Voices blog, Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, nutritionist at Joslin Diabetes Center and co-author of 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet Writes some helpful tips about managing blood sugars during that time of the month:
If you are a woman with diabetes, you may have noticed that even if you have consistent blood sugars most days of the month, there are certain times of the month where our female hormones make it even more challenging to manage your blood sugar. Have you noticed that the week prior to your period that your blood sugars run high or are hard to manage? Some women do not notice their blood sugars changing along with their menstrual cycle while others can time it like clockwork.
Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels can cause an increased need for insulin at different times of the month, particularly the week prior to the start of your period after ovulation. The best way to know if you are sensitive to these hormones is to keep excellent blood sugar records. You may want to test at least four times a day before and during your period to see how your hormones are affecting your sugars. I would recommend more intensive monitoring at least two months or two cycles to get a feel for how your blood sugars trend during your cycle.
Another factor during certain times of the month for many women is how premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects your energy and food cravings. I can speak for most women that PMS can make you have an increased appetite for carbohydrate-laden foods. Then the extra carbohydrates cause a further increase in blood sugars.
In addition to keeping good records to know how the menstrual cycle hormones affect blood sugars, continuing regular exercise during this time (even when you want to cuddle up on the couch) can help decrease the insulin resistance and help insulin work more efficiently as well as improve your mood.
Talk with your doctor and diabetes educator about your blood sugar records and the patterns you have identified during your cycle to see what changes you should make in your lifestyle or medication treatment plan to have more consistent blood sugar levels all through the month.