Dealing with diabetes is never a good thing. Not only does it slow down healing overall, but specific issues can typically develop with the kidneys, nerves, vision and brain if left uncontrolled. Developing it at an earlier age makes it even worse as the condition has more time to have a greater effect on more systems in the body. In the case of teenage girls with type 2 diabetes, menstrual irregularities are also very common.
Symptoms can range from heavy cramping and excessive bleeding to irregular timing of periods or seeing them stop altogether (amenorrhea). This becomes even more concerning as irregular periods may also be a precursor to endometrial cancer in the future. And just being on medication to “control” diabetes doesn’t appear to be enough, as girls involved in the study were taking Metformin, yet many still suffered from menstrual irregularities. Even some who also making lifestyle changes saw no improvement, which underscores the need for prevention and to never develop diabetes in the first place.
This study actually looked at data from a prior study that evaluated treatment for children having type 2 diabetes for between five and six years. Average age was 14 years old. In it, the children were either treated with Metformin, Metformin plus Avandia, or Metformin and lifestyle modifications. From that group, the current researchers selected 190 girls who were not using any type of hormonal-based birth control. They then sought the incidence of those who were having irregular periods, which was defined as having three or fewer periods in a six-month timespan. The results showed:
- 20% incidence of irregular periods (39 of 190 girls)
- Tendency to be more overweight or obese for those girls
- The 39 also had higher levels of testosterone
Surprisingly, both groups with either regular or irregular periods showed the same levels of insulin secretion and sensitivity, so it became less likely that type 2 diabetes was the specific primary driver of the irregularities. It was theorized that it was more likely due to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). With these girls showing elevated testosterone levels, it makes even more sense because that is a main reason for developing PCOS in the first place. And what can be a factor causing elevated testosterone levels in females? Yep, diabetes!
The girls with PCOS also had abnormal liver function tests, which increases their chance of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. So, you can see how everything can easily progress into a snowball effect of health issues. Poor lifestyle habits > diabetes > obesity > elevated testosterone > PCOS > liver disease. And this can all start in the early teen years! Imagine what the quality of life for these kids is going to be as they get older! It could easily be a daily list of several medications and still feeling lousy from all the health issues.
This is why we do what we do. Helping people correct these types of health issues gives them the best chance to lead a long, healthy, happy life. Better yet, teaching young people get their health on track at an early age AND educating parents on how to help their children through diet and lifestyle gives them the opportunity to never develop these conditions in the first place! The saying is true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
As they like to relate it from their perspective, the life of a teenager is difficult enough. They shouldn’t have to be managing diabetes, irregular cycles and the possibility of even more future health problems. Early intervention is the key to avoiding all of that.
The study results were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in April.