Managing diabetes and handling menopause symptoms can feel like a daunting challenge for many women. Each condition can combine effects on your body. For example, if you feel dizzy, find it hard to focus, and are unusually irritable, is this due to hormonal changes? Or is it caused by high or low blood sugar? If you are waking up in the night, hot and sweaty, is this menopause or a change in your blood sugar? Tiredness can also be a symptom of diabetes and menopause.
If you have diabetes, the best way to remain in control is by knowing what to expect. With knowledge, you can prepare yourself for the unique health challenges that may lie ahead.
Menopause is the season of life after a woman’s periods have stopped, and her estrogen levels decline. For some women, menopause occurs as a result of ovary removal for other medical reasons. For others, menopause is a natural part of middle age, often happening in the late 40s or early 50s. Women with type 1 diabetes may experience menopause earlier than other women.
When women go through menopause, they are likely to experience the following symptoms.
Changes in blood sugar level, caused by changing hormone levels.
- Weight gain
- Sleep problems, including night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Sexual problems, such as dryness
Menopause is also a time when women who don’t know they have type 2 diabetes may be first diagnosed.
How can I better manage diabetes and menopause?
Menopause can make it more difficult for you to keep your blood sugar level within range. However, with intentional actions, you can successfully manage diabetes and menopause.
Measure your blood sugar frequently.
To avoid complications from type 2 diabetes, women need to keep their blood glucose levels as even as possible, which can be challenging during menopause. You may need to check your blood sugar level more often than usual during the day, and occasionally during the night. Track your blood sugar readings and symptoms to see how your blood sugars respond to menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and changes in mood. Your doctor can use your notes to adjust your treatment plan.
Healthy eating — such as increasing high-fiber and low-calorie foods and— is the cornerstone of your diabetes and menopause treatment plan. Also, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol intake are healthy lifestyle factors that can help you feel your best after menopause. It helps to keep your diabetes well controlled.
Weight gain during and after menopause is typical, but it seems to be more common among women with type 2 diabetes. With menopause comes another risk: osteoporosis, which causes bones to weaken. Women with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of breaking bones than a menopausal woman who does not have diabetes. Experts recommend that women going through menopause should include regular exercise (including weight-bearing exercises) as part of their overall health plan.
Ask for help with menopausal symptoms.
If you’re experiencing hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or decreased libido, remember that treatment is available. For example, your doctor may recommend a vaginal lubricant or vaginal estrogen therapy. Your doctor might also recommend hormone replacement therapy to relieve the symptoms.
Whether you’re experiencing symptoms from diabetes, menopause, or both, our physicians at Creekside Center for Women would be glad to create a custom health plan for you. Call our office at 479-582-9268 to set up an appointment.