Here’s everything you need to know about women and diabetes

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Dec 3, 2018, 3:08 pm IST
Updated Dec 3, 2018, 3:09 pm IST
Problem of diabetes on women is unique as the disease can affect both the mother and her unborn child.
Women with diabetes are also more prone to have a heart attack, and at a younger age as compared to women without diabetes. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Women with diabetes are also more prone to have a heart attack, and at a younger age as compared to women without diabetes. (Photo: Pixabay)

Diabetes is a chronic disease that weakens blood sugar regulation in the body. Both men and women can develop diabetes, but women show some unique symptoms once they develop the complaint.

Diabetes presently affects over 246 million people worldwide and over half of them are women. Diabetes has no cure.

 

Already considered an "epidemic," researchers expect these rates to surge to 380 million by 2025.  Diabetes can be especially tough on women.

The problem of diabetes on women is unique as the disease can affect both the mother and her unborn child.

It can cause complications during pregnancy such as a miscarriage or a baby born with defects. Women with diabetes are also more prone to have a heart attack, and at a younger age as compared to women without diabetes.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings the risk of gestational diabetes for women who do not presently have diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a temporary state that occurs in some women while they are pregnant and increases the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes later on in life.  This type of diabetes is frequently without symptoms. This means testing during pregnancy for diabetes is really important. Any woman who is pregnant can develop gestational diabetes, while some are at higher risk than others.

Women are more likely to get gestational diabetes if they:

  • Are overweight before becoming pregnant
  • Have prediabetes, a state in which blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough for a verdict of diabetes
  • Have a family history of diabetes

Among persons with diabetes, the diagnosis of heart disease is worse for women than for men; women have lower quality of life and poorer survival rates than men do. The link between diabetes and obesity is prominent.

It is fairly recognized that diabetes and complications can affect the sexuality in men, but it is also true for women. These are some problems that might be found in a woman with diabetes: Less vaginal lubrication leading to dryness and discomfort during intercourse. Lack of sexual desire. The causes of sexual issues for women with diabetes are less clear than those in men who have diabetes. However, nerve damage, slow blood flow to vaginal and genital tissues and mood and hormone changes may play a role.

Both men and women may experience the following symptoms of undiagnosed diabetes:

  • increased thirst and hunger
  • frequent urination
  • weight loss or gain with no obvious cause
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • wounds that heal slowly
  • nausea

A healthy pregnancy is possible with diabetes, but it needs extra care. A healthy diet and exercise are a must to help control blood sugar. Women with diabetes before becoming pregnant have to face various challenges — keeping blood sugar levels under control before getting pregnant is very important as high levels can harm the foetus and cause congenital anomalies.

Menopause

Menopause can cause a variety of changes in a woman’s body that can trigger diabetes or make it worse. Hormonal changes alter how cells respond to insulin. Menopause leads to a drop in estrogen levels as the ovaries stop producing eggs. This can lead to vaginal infections in women with diabetes.

Many women experience weight gain during menopause and women with diabetes may need to change their insulin doses or oral diabetes medications to adapt themselves to these changes.

The article has been authored by Dr. Nikhil Nassikar, consultant diabetologist at K J Somaiya Hospital, Super Specialty Centre.

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