Women Health – Living with diabetes

Can my hormones affect my blood glucose level?

Yes, during your menstrual cycle, levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body rise and fall, and this can cause your blood glucose level to rise and fall. This is because your body’s production of insulin may not match the varying hormone levels.

My blood glucose level changes just before my menstrual period. How should I deal with this?

If your blood glucose level rises before your period, extra physical activity, avoiding extra carbohydrates, or increasing the dose of pills or insulin for the few days before your period can all help. If your blood glucose level falls and you have more hypoglycemic attacks before your period, it may be useful to eat more carbohydrates or reduce the dose of your medication, and to carry extra remedies for hypoglycemic attacks.

Can I take oral contraceptives when I have Type 2 diabetes?

Yes, all oral contraceptives are safe to take when you have diabetes. Sometimes the pill can cause a slight rise in your blood glucose level – but you can adapt your diabetes management to deal with this.

I’m menopausal and my blood glucose levels are all over the place. Why is this and what can I do?

During menopause, your hormone levels are unpredictable and this can affect your blood glucose level. Sometimes changes in your blood glucose level let you know that your hormone levels have changed, and sometimes it works the other way round. Monitoring your blood glucose frequently and recording the results – together with how you are feeling – can give you the information you need to adjust your medication. Talking to your doctor may also be helpful.

Can I take hormone therapy (HT) if I have diabetes?

Diabetes itself will not stop you from taking HT for a short time to relieve your menopause symptoms. Taking HT in the long term is not recommended because it may increase your risk of heart disease. If you have had certain forms of cancer, HT may not be suitable.

Why do I keep getting cystitis and yeast infections?

Cystitis (an inflammation of your bladder) and yeast (an overgrowth of fungus in your vagina) can both occur if your blood glucose level is frequently higher than recommended. A raised blood glucose level allows bacterial and yeast to thrive. You can be treated with antibiotics or antifungal pills or creams. If you have autonomic neuropathy that affects your bladder you may also be more prone to cystitis.

Can I still get pregnant now I’ve got Type 2 diabetes?

Yes, diabetes does not affect your fertility, but you will need to plan your pregnancy, ideally with your doctor. Changing or stopping your usual medication and taking insulin is recommended and be sure that your kidneys and eyes are checked. You will be advised to take folic acid daily and attend a diabetes prenatal clinic. If you become pregnant by accident, contact your doctor as soon as you know.

Can I still take my diabetes pills when I’m pregnant?

You may be able to keep taking metformin for a time after you find you are pregnant if your pregnancy is unplanned, but other tablets for Type 2 diabetes are not recommended when you are pregnant (or breastfeeding). Your blood glucose level will rise during pregnancy, and when you need medication to control this, your doctor is likely to recommend insulin injections.

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