Study: Women With Type 1 Diabetes Experience a Shorter Reproductive Period

Insulin plays a key role in regulating female reproductive function, with previous studies showing the effect of insulin deficiency on a woman’s reproductive system.

A new study compared the length of reproductive periods for women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) with women without diabetes to confirm the effect diabetes has on the female reproductive system.

Insulin plays a key role in regulating female reproductive function, with previous studies showing the effect of insulin deficiency on a woman’s reproductive system. However, little was known about the effect of T1D on the age of natural menopause, according to the press release.

The study, published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), involved nearly 300 women to compare the length of reproductive periods for women with T1D and women without diabetes. The study authors concluded that women with T1D have shorter reproductive periods, with delayed menarche and earlier natural menopause as a result of insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia disrupting their reproductive system’s normal function.

The study authors noted that these findings only apply to women who were diagnosed with T1D before reaching the age of menarche.

Because menopause is associated with a number of physiologic and metabolic changes, and early natural menopause has been linked to increased cardiovascular disease and mortality, there is ongoing interest in identifying factors that provide some indication of when a woman will enter menopause, according to the study authors.

They suggest that more research is needed to help determine modifiable factors that contribute to early menopause to improve the reproductive health of women with diabetes.

"This study found that women with the onset of type 1 diabetes before menarche were at increased risk for a shorter reproductive lifespan. Thus, these women are not only at risk for premature ovarian aging because of early onset type 1 diabetes, they are also at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and early mortality because of early natural menopause,” said Stephanie Faubion, MD, NAMS medical director, in a press release. “Understanding these risks and targeting appropriate risk-reducing strategies are key to optimizing the health and quality of life of these women."

REFERENCE

Women with type 1 diabetes experience a shorter reproductive period. EurekAlert! https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/tnam-wwt030221.php. Published March 3, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2021.