Diabetes & Menopause
Sorry gentlemen. This goes out to the women. But if you love a woman, have a read so you too can understand and support.
Menopause. A term we are all familiar with. It signals a new stage of life. For some women, it’s a celebration, a right of passage so to speak. For me, it was time to do the Snoopy dance. For others, there is a sadness that their childbearing years have, or are, coming to an end. We each view it differently depending on the direction in which our chair sits.
Effects of menopause on diabetes
I really wanted to learn more about how menopause has affected some aspects of my diabetes. I noticed changes when I entered this new stage of life. My sugars were twitchier than normal, harder to control and seemed to affect some other aspects of my diabetic life. When you are diligently looking after your sugars and you move into this stage, and your sugars go haywire, it can be pretty upsetting. Deer-in-the-headlights stunning. As if the body, memory, and emotional changes we experience with diabetes aren’t enough normally, now I get to deal with these even more with menopause. And my sugars are going nuts for what appears to be no reason. Here is what I have learned.
Two of the hormones responsible for much of a women’s reproductive health are estrogen and progesterone.1 They are essential parts of the menstrual cycle and childbearing. In this new stage called menopause, these two little ‘butt head’ hormones affect how our cells respond to insulin, and now, not so much in a helpful way. Their changes can cause weight gain, increase our risk of infections, cause sleep issues and potentially some sexual issues. Do you see the connection to diabetes? Weight gain in menopause tends to be around the middle of the body which is not good for diabetics. And sleep...there is a lot of new evidence that poor sleep hygiene is a contributor to weight gain, also important for diabetes.2,3 We are more at risk for infections such as yeast for both diabetes and menopause4 and diabetes can delay the resolution of infections. Although not talked about as much in diabetic women as it is in diabetic men, sexual issues can occur: vaginal dryness, and nerve damage that affects arousal and orgasm.
Having said all of this, what can be done to help our diabetes in this stage of life? It’s all about prevention in my opinion. Good glucose control before we come into this stage is the best place to start. We can’t control the hormonal changes associated with menopause. We can find ways to control our weight by eating healthy, getting more sleep if we are sleep deprived, and avoiding the other complications of diabetes before we enter menopause. These are all good ways to mitigate the changes before they occur.
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