How Our Hormones Impact Our Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance

The link between our hormones and blood sugar levels is not a connection that is usually made immediately. Regardless, there have been many studies on this connection and how it works. Insulin itself is a hormone and countless others also play a role in your blood sugar levels.

Because of this, hormones play a major role in supporting healthy blood sugar levels for both men and women. In addition to the various other hormones involved, both genders have testosterone and estrogen, though the balance of those hormones can look quite different for everyone. Recognizing these differences and maintaining a healthy hormonal balance can significantly improve your response to insulin.

This guide will examine hormones and their relation to blood sugar control, as well as hormonal conditions and their impact on your blood sugar levels.

To understand the impact of hormones on your blood sugar, you should also understand how a healthy body controls its own blood sugar. It is more than just the pancreas producing insulin. Many different hormones play a large role in blood sugar regulation. 

As you likely already know, insulin is the hormone produced by the islet cells in your pancreas to lower high blood sugar. Any time a person enjoys a piece of cake or downs a large soda, the pancreas produces extra insulin to counteract all of that sugar.

When your blood sugar is low, a different substance called glucagon is produced by your pancreas. Since your liver stores extra glucose, glucagon tells your liver to release some of its stores. This raises your blood sugar if you are not ingesting enough glucose or go too long without eating. People who are hypoglycemic have problems producing enough glucagon, though they do produce insulin correctly to combat high blood sugar.

Epinephrine, cortisol, and growth hormone are produced by various parts of your body and also play a role in blood sugar regulation. All of these are considered stress hormones and they help in raising blood sugar if it gets too low. If you have noticed that your blood sugar levels are more out of control when you are stressed, it is because these hormones create a state of insulin resistance.

Hormones That Impact Blood Sugar and What They Do

Three of the main hormones that our bodies produce are estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. These hormones impact nearly every part of our bodies, with our pancreas and digestive system being no exception. Understanding these links and how they work can infinitely improve your outlook, in regards to blood sugar control.

Different hormones impact your blood sugar in different ways. Since this is a more complicated analysis, it is best to make an appointment with your reproductive endocrinologist or internal medicine doctor  if you suspect that your hormone levels could be causing you difficulty with controlling your blood sugar.

Estrogen

Estrogen helps your body effectively use insulin, which decreases the risk or severity of insulin resistance. Unfortunately, women’s bodies are notorious for fluctuating estrogen, so its benefits are often overlooked. 

If you have fluctuation problems with your blood sugar at the following times, your body may be experiencing a bigger fluctuation in estrogen than most women do.

  • Just before your period starts
  • During menopause and perimenopause
  • During pregnancy

Menopause also presents a unique challenge. Since estrogen production significantly decreases in menopausal women, additional measures may need to be taken if you have insulin resistance, prediabetes or diabetes. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has shown significant success, with 62% of recipients showing a decreased risk for diabetes.

Lower estrogen can also cause inflammation. This is especially rough for diabetics because inflammation itself also causes insulin resistance, which can compound the problem even further.

Testosterone

Testosterone is a bit more complicated than estrogen in its effect on blood sugar. Both high and low levels of testosterone can cause problems with insulin resistance and production. Because of this, it is more important than other hormones that a good balance is maintained. Men may more commonly see insulin resistance problems related to testosterone, but it is not uncommon for women, either.

If your testosterone levels are either too high or too low, you may want to consider some sort of HRT if you are having trouble with your blood sugar. 

Progesterone

Progesterone is known as the pregnancy hormone because it helps prepare women’s bodies for the possibility of pregnancy. If you do not become pregnant during ovulation, your progesterone levels will drop. If you do get pregnant, your progesterone levels continue to rise. This hormone will then help your breast milk production and protect your baby’s placenta.

When progesterone levels are high, it can also impact insulin resistance and is one of the primary causes of gestational diabetes. Progesterone birth control can also cause problems for diabetics. 

Progesterone gets a bit tricky, though, because many estrogen-dominant women are deficient in progesterone, which can cause its own problems with blood sugar. As with testosterone, balance is vital.

Hormonal Conditions Connected to Insulin Resistance

Understanding the basic principles of hormones and their connection to insulin resistance is only half the battle. Perhaps you have been diagnosed with a condition directly relating to your hormones. In these instances, the behavior of certain conditions can affect your endocrine system a bit differently than someone who does not have any of these conditions.

 Since many of the medications used to treat these diseases often increase or change your hormones, they can exacerbate your diabetes. If at all possible, your doctor will most likely want to find alternate treatments so that your diabetes remains under control.

If you struggle with any of the following conditions, you might also want to consider a metabolic cleanse to help with regulating your hormones. This can help both reset your hormones, as well as decrease the inflammation associated with these issues.

These conditions include:

  • PCOS
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Irregular cycles
  • Infertility

If you are looking for relief from any of these and have insulin resistance or diabetes, Lowsitol could help with both of these problems at the same time. Lowsitol contains Inositol and dichiroinositol as well as eight other ingredients that work together to regulate hormonal disorders, as well as make it easier to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

PCOS

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a disease caused by an imbalance of hormones in women. This imbalance leads to irregular periods, enlarged ovaries, and hirsutism. The hormonal imbalance has been associated with 70% -95% of women having insulin resistance that is implicated in PCOS symptoms and eventually progresses to diabetes.

More than half of the women who suffer from PCOS will end up developing Type II Diabetes. Conversely, 27% of women with Type II Diabetes also have PCOS.

As if that were not enough, the progesterone birth control used to treat PCOS can also worsen insulin resistance in women who also have or are predisposed to diabetes. If you already produce a good amount of progesterone, adding extra can spell disaster even though it is considered good for blood sugar maintenance. You may want to consider a gentler option.

Research has shown that women with PCOS may have a defect in converting Myoinositol to D-chiro-inositol. Lowsitol contains a proprietary combination based on several studies with Inositol and DCI to capture the benefits of both forms. 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is a unique form of diabetes that is only present in pregnancy due to the hormonal changes that pregnant women go through. Once your baby is born, gestational diabetes disappears immediately.

Because of the extra hormones in pregnancy, all pregnant women become at least slightly insulin resistant later in pregnancy. That is why the threshold for gestational diabetes is a bit higher than for traditional diabetes. In some women, this insulin resistance gets out of control and additional measures are needed. This is when it becomes gestational diabetes.

Several different pregnancy hormones in varying amounts can cause insulin resistance. These hormones are:

  • Estrogen
  • Cortisol
  • Human Placental Lactogen
  • Progesterone

Since all of these cause some level of insulin resistance, the three put together can be especially problematic. For a lot of pregnant women, dietary changes are enough to control insulin levels. Other more severe cases require insulin injections.

Irregular Cycles

Irregular menstrual cycles can present in many ways, with symptoms appearing differently for each woman. In women with Type II Diabetes, irregular and longer periods are a very common side effects. The hormone progesterone ramps up its production just before your period starts and can interfere with blood glucose levels. 

If you struggle with your blood sugar levels during the pre-menstrual period, this is known as luteal phase insulin resistance, which has been noted in scientific studies. Other studies have shown that protein levels during these changes can impact insulin resistance on the same timeline. Women often report needing extra insulin to control their levels during this time. 

To know for sure if this is what is affecting you, start keeping an ovulation journal along with your blood sugar level records and look for correlation. You might even consider taking a supplement that could help regulate your cycles, such as Lowsitol or a metabolic cleanse.

If your symptoms are particularly hard to control during this time, many doctors recommend that you make an appointment with your gynecologist to get checked for PCOS, as a significant link has been shown between the two, particularly with worsening problems.

Conversely, during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, which is from when your period starts until ovulation begins, you may notice that your blood sugar is easier to control. This is because your hormone levels are balanced out since your body did not get pregnant during ovulation.

Infertility

For most women, having children is a natural course of life that happens with little to no effort, sometimes even by accident! For others, it is a heartbreaking journey of constant doctor visits and negative pregnancy tests. Even worse, infertility can seem like it affects other areas of life, including diabetes and insulin management.

It is pretty safe to say that insulin resistance affects fertility, not the other way around. Women who have high or uncontrolled blood sugar report increased difficulty in conceiving. Infertility is often the result of any of the above conditions.

Since we know now that stress can have an effect on blood sugar levels, the stress of trying to conceive can absolutely affect blood sugar management. 

Finding a medication or supplement that is compatible with getting pregnant is especially important for diabetics who are anxious to conceive. Lowsitol is one such option that many people struggling with infertility have turned to.

Final Thoughts

Since hormones are such an integral part of the system that controls your blood sugar, it only makes sense that managing your hormone levels will help manage your blood sugar levels, as well. If you are having trouble controlling your blood sugar, it may be worth seeing a doctor have your levels checked.

Beyond that, there are many different avenues to explore when it comes to managing your hormones. From birth control to stress and even exercise, all of these things will go a long way to maintaining a healthy hormone system and better controlling your blood sugar.

Sources

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Please note, this blog is not intended to replace your primary healthcare provider, or any healthcare provider, for that matter.