Diabetes and Menopause – Tips for Effective Management

Menopause means cessation of menstruation. This occurs due to decreasing levels of female sex hormones in the body usually between 44 – 52 years of age though sometimes it is brought about abruptly by surgical removal of ovaries.

Most women experience no symptoms whatsoever but some have hot flashes and cold sweats, mood swings and weight gain.

Skin becomes dry; hair thins out on the head but may begin to grow on the chin or upper lip. Some have vaginal dryness that can affect sex life and urinary complaints like frequency, burning or leakage on coughing and sneezing.

To compound matters, disease that middle-aged people are prone to like diabetes, heart problems and blood pressure may crop up.

Diabetes and menopause are twin challenges that have to be understood and managed by the doctor and patient together. The effect diabetes can have on the menopausal woman are:

• Decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones can trigger fluctuations in blood sugar levels which cannot be controlled as easily as before. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a higher risk of diabetes complications.

• Some women tend to gain weight after menopause which increases the need for insulin or oral diabetes medication.

• Even before menopause, high blood sugar levels can contribute to urinary and vaginal infections. After menopause a decrease in estrogen leads to thinning and drying of the vaginal mucosa making it further prone to infection.

• Hot flashes and night sweats may lead to sleep deprivation which makes it tougher to manage blood sugar levels.

• Diabetes may damage vaginal nerves which interfere with arousal and orgasm. Vaginal dryness further compounds matters by causing pain during sex.

Also Read: Postmenopausal Bleeding Causes, Risk and Treatment

Diabetes and Menopause

What to Do:

• Make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly for proper diabetic control and optimal overall health.

• Measure your blood sugar more often than usual during the day, and occasionally during the night. Document blood sugar levels and symptoms if any, so that your doctor can change your diabetes treatment plan accordingly.

• Drug dose adjustment may be required according to the increase/decrease in blood sugar levels, weight gain/loss and physical activity or lack of it. You might even have to begin new medication.

• Diabetes and menopause are predisposing factors for heart disease. If in addition to this, you have increased cholesterol levels or high blood pressure the risk is compounded. It is advisable to begin BP and cholesterol-lowering medication at the earliest. In addition, eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.

• Seek help for menopausal symptoms. If you have hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual response or other menopausal symptoms, remember that treatment is available.

For example, your doctor may recommend a vaginal lubricant to restore vaginal moisture or vaginal estrogen therapy to correct thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls (vaginal atrophy). If weight gain is a problem, a dietitian can help. Some women may even need hormone replacement therapy under medical supervision.

• Menopausal women with diabetes are more prone to urinary and vaginal infection. These should not be allowed to linger on and r prompt treatment should be started.

Regular visits to the doctor are a must for diabetic control and the diagnosis of complication at the earliest.

SOURCE: Woman’s Era Health Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *