Dealing with the downside of menopause and diabetes
7 Jan 2022
Although menopause is a natural process that all women go through, many find the experience stressful and challenging due to the wide-ranging symptoms that can accompany it.
Unfortunately, some of the common things that occur in your body during menopause can put you at a greater risk of developing diabetes or can pose challenges to your diabetes control. If you’re unsure of your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, you can check here
If you’re coming up to the menopause or are currently going through it, it’s important to be aware of how menopause and diabetes can impact one another, as well as how you can manage it.
Fluctuating blood sugar
When you enter the menopause, the amount of oestrogen and progesterone your body produces drops. These hormones not only regulate your periods, but also affect how well your body responds to insulin – the hormone that moves glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream into your cells. This insulin resistance causes your blood sugar to increase, potentially leading to serious health problems.
Because your body doesn’t respond to insulin as well during menopause, your metabolism slows down and you don’t burn calories as effectively.
In fact, according to a study by Healthy Women, the average woman gains ten to fifteen pounds during and after menopause. Weight gain is one of the key factors in increasing your chance of developing diabetes, so you should try and manage this as much as possible.
Hot flashes and night sweats
Menopause often causes hot flashes and night sweats, both which make it more difficult to sleep. A lack of sleep can make your blood sugar levels harder to control.
Changes in mood
A recent survey by Healthandher.com found that 86% of women said they had experienced mental health issues during the perimenopause.
Increased anxiety, feeling depressed and memory loss are mood changes which are commonly identified in relation to the menopause, and may have a negative impact on how well you take care of yourself. For example, people who are feeling depressed may make unhealthy food choices to make themselves feel better.
It’s important to be wary of this type of behaviour to prevent your blood sugar spiking.
Managing menopause and diabetes
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help better manage diabetes and menopause:
It’s even more important when going through the menopause to live a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly - limiting caffeine and alcohol will particularly help if you’re struggling to sleep and increasing your fruit, vegetables and wholegrain intake which help manage glucose levels.
- Check your blood sugar more often
You may need to check your blood sugar more often than normal if you’re coming up to or going through the menopause, to measure the impact it’s having on your body.
- Look into medication and treatment options
If your blood sugar levels change, you might need to consult your doctor to adjust your diabetes medication accordingly. You could also speak to your doctor about other treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if you feel that your menopausal symptoms are really affecting your quality of life.
- Measure your blood pressure
Menopause can sometimes increase blood pressure due to the added stress on your body, which increases your risk of developing diabetes. Speak to your doctor about whether your blood pressure in the healthy range and how you can manage it.
If you find that you are really struggling with menopause and diabetes, let your friends, family and colleagues know so that they can provide support. Some companies like Ingeus may be signed up to the Wellbeing of Women workplace pledge
, which provides special support and assistance to women going through the menopause.
If you are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, you may be eligible for referral to your local Healthier You service. This NHS-funded programme can support you to make simple changes to your diet, weight management and physical activity levels. They are easy to incorporate into your everyday routine and can significantly reduce your risk of diabetes-related health problems. To find out if you are eligible or for more advice visit: https://www.stopdiabetes.co.uk/