Michelle Pugle is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of experience contributing accurate and accessible health information to authority publications.
Steffini Stalos, DO is board-certified in Pathology and Lab Medicine. She is currently Chief Medical Officer of Blood Associates, a lab consultancy firm.
People with diabetes can donate blood if they meet certain eligibility requirements. In general, people with well-managed or controlled diabetes can donate blood. This includes people with diabetes who take insulin or oral medications for diabetes management. This is true whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
In this article, you’ll learn the factors contributing to whether or not someone with diabetes can donate blood. You’ll also learn more about how to prepare to donate blood when you have diabetes and what to expect after donating blood.
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Diabetes must be under control before donating blood. This means you’re able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This requires daily diabetes management with lifestyle habits that include a range of nutritious foods, exercise, and stress management. For some people, it may also require taking certain diabetes medications. 
If you have questions about other medications, you may be taking for diabetes management or other health conditions and how these impact your eligibility to donate blood, you can ask your healthcare provider or the staff at the blood donation clinic. Many medications are acceptable.

People with gestational diabetes cannot donate blood due to pregnancy. The American Red Cross recommends waiting six weeks after giving birth before donating blood.
Other factors that can influence eligibility for donating blood include:
There are things to keep in mind when donating blood if you have diabetes. You must consider how to prepare and recover.
Before donating blood when you have diabetes, there are a few ways to prepare to ensure a successful donation. Bear in mind you’ll need to share with the blood donation center that you have diabetes and whether or not you’re currently taking medication for diabetes. In addition, you may be asked a few additional questions about your health history.
Here are the steps to take before donating blood when you have diabetes:

It’s important to regularly check your blood sugar after donating blood. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you feel unwell after donating blood or have difficulty managing blood sugar. 
Some tips for after-care include:
Yes, whole blood donations can lower your A1C (blood sugar) levels for several weeks after donating blood. One 2017 study published suggested donating blood lowers A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes and people living without diabetes.
The researchers concluded that after donating blood, people with type 2 diabetes might be at risk of falsely lowered levels of HbA1c (A1c). This may lead to inaccurate interpretations of blood sugar control from their healthcare provider or diabetes specialist. 
To prevent misreadings or to ensure your healthcare provider has all the necessary context to understand your readings, be sure to mention to your healthcare providers when you plan to and if you’ve recently donated blood (i.e., within the last few months).

People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can donate blood as long as their diabetes is under control. Taking diabetes medications doesn't usually interfere with a person’s blood donation eligibility. Donating blood when you have diabetes requires continuing to take good care of yourself and following general requirements for preparing before and after donating blood. Remember that donating blood has been shown to lower A1c levels, so always let your healthcare provider know the last time you donated blood.
If you’ve been having difficulty managing your diabetes, you’ll need to focus on this first. So while it’s admirable to want to give back to the community today, you may want to use the goal of donating blood to help you assess what’s missing from your current diabetes care plan. Speaking with your healthcare provider about the next steps is a great place to start.

If your diabetes is well-managed, but you have recently given blood, you may not want to give blood until your A1c levels are more accurate. This may take two to four months, according to one observational study.
Yes, it’s safe for people with diabetes to get tattoos. However, this is only true if the diabetes is well-managed or controlled. Otherwise, above-average blood sugar levels can complicate your tattoo healing process and even increase the risk of infection.
According to one study, blood donation may temporarily benefit people with diabetes. After donating blood, improved insulin production and blood sugar tolerance was observed. Improvement was particularly noticeable three weeks after donating blood. However, more research is needed to determine how blood donation can benefit people with diabetes.

American Red Cross. Eligibility criteria: alphabetical.
America’s Blood Centers. Blood donation faqs.
One blood. Yes I can.
American Red Cross. What donors should know about iron and blood donation.
Dijkstra A, Lenters-Westra E, de Kort W, et al. Whole blood donation affects the interpretation of hemoglobin A1c. PloS One. 2017;12(1):e0170802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170802
American Red Cross. Tips for a successful donation.
American Red Cross. What to do before and after your donation.
Diabetes.co.uk. Tattoos and diabetes.
Borai A, Livingstone C, Farzal A, et al. Changes in metabolic indices in response to whole blood donation in male subjects with normal glucose tolerance. Clinical Biochemistry Journal. 2016;49(1-2):51-56. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2015.08.023
By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind. 

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