Synthetic Hormones and Type 1 Diabetes: A Call For Sharing Personal Stories


There are many reasons for taking synthetic (and largely female) hormones, including fertility treatments, sustaining pregnancy after IVF, Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), perimenopause, and menopause.

All these conditions (and normal menopause without hormone replacement therapy – HRT) greatly affect our insulin sensitivity and can require seemingly radical (and scary) changes in one’s insulin regime.

In addition, Premature Ovarian Failure and Primary Ovarian Insufficiency can be caused by an autoimmune disorder.  Ugh, sound familiar?  AND, it’s common for individuals with one autoimmune endocrine disorder to develop others.  Boo Hiss!  Studies on both of these phenomena are ongoing and the mechanisms aren’t fully understood (or easily determined with lab tests).

major endocrine glands     hormone balance

Here’s a pic showing all of the endocrine glands in our bodies and another showing how hormones made by some of these glands are interrelated.


I experienced major insulin sensitivity changes when I developed sudden-onset POF (at age 35) and started on HRT (the most bioequivalent versions I could find).   I also went through my second pregnancy while on synthetic estrogen and progesterone (same hormones as women who undergo IVF), and am now looking to get regulated back on HRT since I’m done breastfeeding (and apparently still post-menopausal).

As a T1 with Grave’s Disease (autoimmune thyroid condition), I was able to find a lot of information and personal stories shared online (years ago!) about people with thyroid disorders and type 1diabetes.  But, when it came to a diagnosis of POF and subsequent HRT and pregnancy, I couldn’t really find anything.  My Endo didn’t even know there was a link between POF and other autoimmune endocrine disorders (Gah! Needless to say, I see a different Endo now).


I wish I had been educated (at least a little bit) about some of these issues and how all of our endocrine glands and hormones really affect one another before my body became the ultimate lab experiment.  I’d like to share my experiences in the hopes of helping and relating to others and am looking for other women who would be willing to share their experiences as well.

What hormones were you on/missing?  Were you undergoing hormone treatment for infertility, POF, POI, IVF, normal menopause?  Was your hormone treatment cyclic in nature?  Was it bioequivalent?  How did your insulin sensitivity change?

I’d love to start a page on my blog that could serve as a central place for women to share their stories about major hormone changes (especially synthetic hormones and menopause) and how they affected blood sugar and insulin requirements.  Drastic hormone changes are bad enough without also feeling isolated on the diabetes front.  Please contact me if you have a story to share.

While I’m sure our experiences were quite different in some respects, one thing we’ve all faced is trying to adjust our diabetes management to meet the demands of hormone-induced insulin sensitivity changes.  Let’s share our stories!


Here are a few more-scientific articles related to hormone-insulin relationships and autoimmune hormone disorders.

First Things First: Hormones and Insulin Requirements

TI diabetes, Grave’s disease, then early menopause….Geeezzz, what’s next?  Apparently, it’s not only pretty common for people with an autoimmune disorder to develop a second autoimmune disorder but also for women with T1 to have early menopause (or premature ovarian failure-POF).  Like my autoimmune disorders, I developed POF suddenly and acutely.  I was only 35 years old.  Without estrogen, my blood sugars skyrocketed and I was advised by multiple Drs to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and stay on it until I was 50 or 55.

I’m the kind of person that doesn’t believe a pill will solve all my problems (I wish!) and sometimes that we, as a culture looking for a quick fix, tend to take medications we don’t really need without considering long-term side effects.

I researched painstakingly to find the most bioequivalent (not the most convenient) versions of HRT available, settling on the Vivelle dot skin patch for estrogen coupled with cyclic Progesterone in the form of Prometrium…and (drum role please) they worked!  My blood sugars and insulin requirements went back to normal, I lost weight, and generally felt great!  Until 3 years later when I got pregnant…WHAT?!

So, despite my acute POF, my non-existent FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), and crazy-high LH (luteinizing hormone), miracles do happen.  Now, about a year after my healthy, happy son was born, both my hormones and my blood sugars are a bit choppy.  In the past, I used my consistent blood sugars as a barometer to determine what dose of hormones I needed to be on to get back to my pre-menopausal self.   But, since the pregnancy my blood sugars aren’t the shining example of regularity they once were, so this time I’m attempting to adjust the hormones first and then concentrate on the insulin requirements.  I suppose it’s a bit of a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” situation.


I’m currently on the same dosages of Vivelle and Prometrium that I was on pre-pregnancy, however what used to work so well for me….just isn’t working at all now! (Don’t worry I’ll save you the gruesome girly details).  The only difference in the HRT is that my insurance Co. started opting for a generic version of Prometrium and I’ve been on that since Feb.  My first step in getting the HRT right is to switch back to the Brand version and see if it makes a difference.  Here’s to hoping that it works and frees me up to move on to adjusting my insulin dosages!