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Health for girls with diabetes

As a girl or young woman with diabetes there are a few things related to puberty and periods which are important to consider.

Puberty and diabetes

Puberty (- the time in your life when you begin to mature from being a child into a young adult) can start at any age from about 8 or 9 years of age.  However, periods don’t usually start until between the ages of 10 and 14.  During puberty you will begin to notice changes in your body like:

  • Your breasts begin to get bigger
  • You get some hair under your arms
  • You get taller and have a growth spurt.
  • You may become more moody
  • Your blood glucose readings may become higher.

These changes are caused by the puberty hormones which include oestrogen and growth hormone. These make your body resistant to insulin. This means that during puberty you will need to give yourself more and more insulin to keep your blood glucose readings within range. During puberty you may need up to 2 units for every kilogram of body weight each day, which is a big increase, and we will work with you and your parents to change your insulin doses.

Periods and diabetes

Periods can start at any time between 10 and 14 years of age so don’t worry if you start having your periods a little earlier or a little later than your friends. Many girls find their periods are not regular to start with and this is normal. It can take up to two years before you are having periods at regular intervals

Blood glucose readings often rise just before and during a period. If this happens then it is a good idea to increase your insulin doses before and during your period. You can do this by using the health option on the expert meter (pre menstrual setting) to increase bolus doses by 20%

Pregnancy, contraception and diabetes

Diabetes DOES NOT affect your fertility, so you can have normal, healthy babies like other women especially if your blood glucose control is good.   It is important to have very good blood glucose levels at the very beginning of a pregnancy so that the baby’s development is not affected by having high glucose levels. This means that pregnancies have to be planned.  Remember, you can get pregnant even after having sex just once, and you can get pregnant even before you have had your first period.

It is always a good idea to delay having sex until you are in a stable long-term relationship.  And it is even more important that all girls (with and without diabetes) use contraception when they start a sexual relationship because of the importance of preventing unplanned pregnancy as well as preventing sexual diseases.

Please do ask for more information if you are thinking of starting a sexual relationship – we have more information about types of contraception which are appropriate for young people with diabetes.

You can ask your Diabetes Nurse for more information or a leaflet by chatting to them, sending them an email or text, or leaving a message on the answer phone.

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