Diabetes in Women: Pregnancy and menopause
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Diabetes is a silent pandemic affecting 537 million adults worldwide. Although diabetes affects men and women equally, diabetes is projected to increase to 313 million women by 2040.
The consequences of diabetes more severely impact women. In this article, we will cover a series of challenges women face due to diabetes in their life. In the following article, we will discuss what women are recommended to do to prevent or manage their diabetes effectively.
How is diabetes different for women than it is for men?
Pre-menopausal women with diabetes lose their protection against heart disease more than non-diabetic women as heart disease increases by about four times in women but only about two times in men. Research shows that even after having a heart attack, nearly one in every three women with diabetes dies within a year, compared to one in every five without diabetes.
Women are also at higher risk of other diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression. Furthermore, the female gender affects access to health services and health-seeking behavior and may amplify both the short- and long-term adverse impact of diabetes.
Diabetes and ordinary women's health
Women’s common diseases such as vaginal yeast infection or urinary tract infection(UTI) happen more frequently among women with diabetes than others, especially if their blood sugar levels are not in control.
Changes in hormone levels right before and during the menstrual period can make blood sugar levels hard to predict and manage. Women also may have longer or heavier periods, and their food cravings become hard to manage. Additionally, diabetes lowers women’s interest in sex and their ability to enjoy it. Some women get vaginal dryness, making intercourse uncomfortable or even painful.
Birth control becomes challenging when the blood sugar levels are not in control, as high blood sugar levels cause problems during pregnancy for both the mother and her baby.
Diabetes and pregnancy
Diabetes can make it hard to get pregnant, and with pregnancy, high blood sugar can increase the risk for:
Preeclampsia (high blood pressure and nerve damage)
Delivery by cesarean section (C-section from high baby’s weight)
Loss of pregnancy (miscarriage or stillbirth)
Newborn breathing problems or low blood sugar right after birth
After menopause, women’s bodies make less estrogen, leading to the volatility of blood sugar levels. Some women gain weight, which increases their need for insulin or other diabetes medicines. Hot flashes and night sweats disrupt sleep and make managing blood sugar harder. Additionally, sexual problems such as vaginal dryness or nerve damage are expected during menopause, making the quality of life much poorer.
The good news is that many women manage to live a nice and long life despite having diabetes.
If you need more information before, don’t hesitate to consult a medical doctor via BYON8 App.
Until the next time — stay healthy
Azeez O, Kulkarni A, Kuklina EV, Kim SY, Cox S. Hypertension and Diabetes in Non-Pregnant Women of Reproductive Age in the United States. Prev Chronic Dis 2019;16:190105. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd16.190105
Kapur, A., & Seshiah, V. (2017). Women & diabetes: Our right to a healthy future. The Indian journal of medical research, 146(5), 553–556. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1695_17