Women and Diabetes: Adjusting Your Management Plan to Match Hormonal Changes

I’ve had type 1 diabetes for six years, and it never fails that during the dreaded “time of the month,” I become increasingly insulin-resistant. Just looking at a carbohydrate makes my sugar skyrocket. I’m exhausted, and my mood goes from my usual positive to cranky and sensitive.

Many women struggle with their diabetes management during hormonal shifts. Menopause, pregnancy, and unpredictable menstrual cycles increase these struggles, making diabetes an even more frustrating and defeating disease for women. However, there is hope. Try taking these five steps.

Get an appointment with your doctor

I struggled for over a year with pre-period blood sugars.  Instead of ‘fessing up to my doctor that my diabetes was out of control for an entire week of every month, I tried to self-manage.  I was quickly reaching diabetes burnout. Not only was my pre-period week becoming a nightmare, but so was the rest of the month as a result of my poor attitude and frustration. Commit to telling your doctor the truth about your struggles.

Keep charts

I dreaded charting my blood sugars because it seemed like just one more thing to manage on top of working, taking care of my kids, and doing household chores. However, charting can help your doctor determine specific and positive changes that need to be made to your diabetes management plan. Consider charting your blood sugars, your medication dosages (especially any changes), your food and drink intake, your exercise, your sleep, your stress level, and any changes in your weight, your periods, and other factors. Take the results to your doctor appointment.

Do what you are told

I have been guilty of hearing my doctor’s recommendations and then not following them, especially when I’m in a burnout season with my disease. I must remember, however, that my doctor is trained in diabetes management and sees hundreds of patients from whom he draws experience.  It’s certainly worth a try for me to follow his directions.

Follow up

Let your doctor know what is or isn’t working as you make prescribed changes to your diabetes management. Be open to further adjustments.  Your doctor cannot help you if you don’t keep him or her in the loop.   


If you need further assistance in a specific area of your management, such as sleep issues, diet, or stress management, ask your doctor for the names of medical professionals who specialize in these areas. Remember that diabetes care isn’t just about one doctor for one patient. It takes a slew of professionals, called your diabetes care team, who work together to better your quality of life.

As for me, during “that time” each month, I increase my bolus and basal rates, switch to a lower carbohydrate diet, exercise less intensely, and make sure that I get plenty of rest each night.  I also chart my periods so that I can keep track of approximately which day I’ll need to revert to my Plan B.  This helps me head off the days of high blood sugars that I previously had. Though my period week is still no walk in the park, I am feeling more confident and less burned out.

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