Evidence suggests that insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia may disrupt the female reproductive system’s normal function, leading to delayed menarche and premature ovarian aging. We thus compared the length of the reproductive period of women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to women without diabetes.
Women with childhood-onset T1D (diagnosed in 1950-80) from the prospective Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications (EDC) study and nondiabetic women from the Pittsburgh site of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) were studied. Exclusion criteria comprised not having reached natural menopause, hysterectomy/oophorectomy before menopause, and sex hormone therapy during the menopausal transition. Reproductive history was self-reported. The historical and Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation hormonal algorithms were also used to assess menopause status.
Women in the T1D cohort (n = 105) were younger, more likely to be White, never smokers, with lower BMI and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all P values < 0.05) compared with women without diabetes (n = 178). After covariate adjustment, T1D women were also older at menarche (0.5-y delay, P = 0.002) but younger at natural menopause (-2.0 y, P < 0.0001). Women with T1D thus experienced 2.5 fewer reproductive years compared to those without diabetes (P < 0.0001). These findings were restricted to the subgroup of women who were diagnosed with T1D before reaching menarche (n = 80).
Women with T1D onset before menarche have a shorter reproductive period compared with nondiabetic women, exhibiting delayed menarche and earlier natural menopause. Factors that may be related to a shorter reproductive period in T1D should be investigated.