Are you a diabetic in menopause? You need to know how the two conditions affect each other and what you can do about it.
That is because being in menopause means a diabetic woman has two problems. Both involve your endocrine system.
Estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones involved in menopause, will disturb other hormone systems too. Insulin is a hormone, so it is going to be affected.
We are told that during menopause we might expect some weight gain. That by itself will affect type 2 diabetics.
We are also warned that we will have sleep disturbance during menopause. So we can expect poor sleep to raise our blood sugar levels.
There is another problem too. Because of the changes in hormone levels our bodies are not as protected against yeast infections as they were before.
That is not good news for a diabetic, since we fight fungal and bacterial infections already as a side effect of hyperglycemia.
Does going into menopause increase the risk of having diabetes? Research says the answer is no.
Some women do gain weight during and after menopause, but that may just be a part of getting older and being less active.
The risks that go with the metabolic syndrome apply at any age. If you become more sedentary and lose muscle mass your chance of developing diabetes does rise. Also, the risk of developing diabetes grows with age.
But if you have type 2 diabetes, menopause does affect your blood sugar levels. The endocrine changes can cause your blood sugar to be more difficult to control while your body changes.
Being aware of that will help. As a diabetic in menopause you'll be less stressed about the ups and downs in your glucose monitor readings.
Stress does affect your blood sugar control. Having diabetes during menopause will be easier without chronic stress.
Urinary and vaginal infections are a problem for a diabetic, but there is a remedy. One researcher has found what gives cranberries their natural ability to fight urinary tract infections.
Cranberries keep bacteria from being able to attach to the vaginal and urinary tract walls in women. It's not just an old wives' tale.
Cranberry juice, dried cranberries and cranberry pills added to your diet every day will help your body stop the recurrent infections. For a diabetic in menopause that is welcome news.
The weight gain that often is associated with menopause has a cure too. The secret is exercise.
I know. Staying active takes effort for those of us who are not used to it. But for a diabetic in menopause it has to become a priority.
If you can find a way to be active for at least an hour a day you'll keep off the pounds. If you need help doing that, here are some ideas to help you stay active.
Sleep disturbance is a common complaint among menopausal women. Since diabetics whose blood sugar is not well controlled also have problems with this, it's a good idea to know what you can do about it.
First, lower your stress level. Do some exercise, but nothing strenuous right before bedtime.
Don't drink caffeine or alcohol before bed either. Some people think alcohol helps sleep onset, but sleep doctors say that alcohol is actually a stimulant that will make it harder to sustain sleep all night.
A walk outside in the sunlight in the morning will make it easier to go to sleep at night. Sunlight sets your biological clock.
And there are many other natural things you can do to help you sleep. You can try some before you resort to medications to aid sleep.
Some of the stress for a diabetic in menopause comes from sexual dysfunction. Vaginal dryness, loss of sensation, these can be a result of long-term diabetic complications of peripheral and autonomic neuropathy. They are also part of the estrogen changes in menopause.
Your gynecologist will help you with these issues. You need to be willing to talk about them. Otherwise stress and a spiral into depression will worsen your diabetic condition.
So much more is understood about these problems than there was in the past. You have no idea what doctors might be able to do for you unless you ask.
If you are a diabetic in menopause, knowing what to expect is helpful. Then the blood sugar changes, yeast infections, sleep disturbance and female problems will not surprise and overwhelm you.
It helps to remember that there are still things to accomplish and people to care about. You are not defined by what happens to you, but by the choices you make.