Skip to main content
Shared experience

“Menopause isn’t something you need to go through on your own”

Dawn’s story

Dawn Adams, specialist type 1 diabetes midwife

I’m a midwife with a specialist interest in diabetes and pregnancy. I’m completing a PhD in type 1, pregnancy and wearable technology. I’ve always had an interest in reproductive health, but when I started experiencing menopausal symptoms, I realised how little information is available for women with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diagnosis

When I was diagnosed with type 1 during my last term at university the hospital team advised me not to have any more than two children. They also told me that I would probably be advised to have a hysterectomy as a form of permanent contraception.

This was during the early 1990s though and thankfully that recommendation is no longer made due to significant improvements in pregnancy outcomes for women with diabetes. These are in large part due to the types of insulins we now have access to and advances in glucose monitoring technologies.

Insulin sensitivity and resistance

Things began to change in my early 40s. Over 18-24 months, my cycle became irregular with gaps of 2-10 weeks. I swung from insulin sensitivity to insulin resistance, making it difficult to find the middle ground.

I’d become aware of changes in memory, it was like brain fog. Hot flushes started in the core of my body and radiated out, like switching on a gas stove. I had night sweats and was much more irrational with my moods.

I tried to learn more about type 1 diabetes and menopause, but all I found was that women should check their blood glucose more often. With a DIY closed loop, my insulin profiles and FreeStyle Libre readings appeared to be fine. But when I looked at my AndroidAPS reports, I could see how much more insulin I needed to compensate for those fluctuations.

Finding support in others

A friend with type 1 had spoken on social media about her menopause experiences. We got together with other women living with type 1 to have an open and honest conversation about what was going on.

There were things we were all experiencing, like mood changes, irritability, sleepiness, brain fog and bizarre things going on with blood glucose. None of us ever thought we’d experience menopause and with nothing out there to give us any guidance, it’s really helped to have the support of a strong peer network of women.

A helping hand

I’d always been told I couldn’t have HRT, but my GP was lovely about what I was experiencing and was willing to prescribe oestrogen patches and progesterone tablets. They’ve made a significant difference to my symptoms and even improved my blood glucose issues.

Having the technology has been a massive bonus. If I was back to injections and finger pricking, I think I’d be feeling very distressed, but having my Libre2, insulin pump and Android phone eases the burden.

I’d encourage other women experiencing menopause or perimenopause to have a conversation with their GP. Find other women going through it to reassure you. Menopause isn’t something you need to go through on your own.

More shared experiences

Read more
A photo of a woman posing with her hand on her hip in front of a gassy lawn.
Shared experience

Living with type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism and vitiligo

Rebekah’s story: “I had no idea that having one autoimmune condition makes you more at risk of getting others”

Read more
Shared experience

"Type 1 gives you more pride in what you have done” – rowing on the world stage

"Type 1 doesn't get in the way of my sports at all. It's something I just try and manage as best I can."

Read more
Maddie and her brother Ollie, who has type 1 diabetes
Shared experience

"Type 1 never controlled his childhood or ours” – growing up with a brother with type 1

Maddie Bonser, JDRF's Research Operations Officer, talks about growing up with a brother who has type 1.

Read more
Carole, who was diagnosed with type 1 in her fifties and accessed cognitive behavioural therapy to help manage the condition.
Shared experience

"CBT helped me to accept my diagnosis" – using therapy to live well with type 1

Carole was misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes when she was 50. After being correctly diagnosed with type 1, she accessed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help her come to terms with living with the condition.

Connect with us on social