A FEW NECESSARY FACTS:
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).
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.
A BIT ABOUT MY STORY:
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).
WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY TOO?
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.
- Journal article: Hormone replacement therapy alters insulin sensitivity in young women with premature ovarian failure.
- Excerpt from ADAs Guide to Diabetes (2010) on Sex Hormones and Insulin Resistance. Explains insulin resistance in a normal monthly cycle.
- Journal Article: Review on Autoimmune Reactions in Female Infertility: Antibodies to Follicle Stimulating Hormone.
- Patient information: Early menopause (primary ovarian insufficiency) (Beyond the Basics).