Puberty can be a very difficult time for all children because of the physical and psychological changes they go through. However, for teenage diabetes youngsters it can be a particularly challenging time. Stress often makes diabetes symptoms worse and as puberty can be a stressful time, many teenagers find that they go through periods of time when their symptoms get worse and they get increasingly fed up with their condition.
How does diabetes affect puberty?
Diabetes affects puberty in different ways depending on the individual; some teenagers may suffer much more than others during puberty. Diabetes can affect puberty in different ways, as follows:
During puberty many teenagers feel under pressure to fit in and injecting insulin and eating special foods at specific times can be a hindrance to their social life; they may start to feel isolated and different and in extreme cases, teenagers may rebel against their routine in a bid to conform to the life that other teenagers are living; they may stop regulating their insulin and this can potentially be very serious. Most teenagers suffer from self-esteem issues and problems with confidence at some point during puberty, but for teenagers with diabetes, these problems can be ongoing and more severe. Some teenagers may become frustrated, angry and aggressive in reaction to the changes their body is undergoing as a result of puberty.
As a result of the hormonal changes going on in the body during puberty, it may become more difficult for teenagers with diabetes to control their blood glucose levels; this is particularly true for teenage girls, as their blood glucose levels to change very quickly around the time of their period. Blood sugar levels can swing from high to low and this can be very frustrating. Some teenage girls may experience irregular periods as a result of diabetes.
There is some evidence to suggest that teenagers with type 1 diabetes go through puberty slightly later; this may mean that they do not reach sexual maturation as early as other children.