Monday, January 9, 2012

Menopause affects diabetic women with many body changes

Drinking your way through menopause...Image by marsmet461 via FlickrMenopause affects women in many different ways. If you also have diabetes, menopause often creates new challenges with diabetes management.

Menopause is defined by the absence of a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, which occurs on average at 51. Women with Type 1 diabetes since childhood tend to start their periods a year later on average, but go through menopause a few years earlier.

About six years of potential reproductive time can be lost. Women with Type 2 diabetes diagnosed in adulthood tend to go through menopause a few years later than average, likely because of higher estrogen levels created by excess body fat. Estrogen and progesterone are the two major hormones to fall during pre-menopause and after menopause.

In general, estrogen tends to make the hormone insulin work better whereas progesterone reduces the actions of insulin. As menopause is occurring, there are greater up and down shifts in both these hormones relative to each other. The result is a greater risk for extreme variability in blood sugar.
Hot flashes and night sweats are symptoms of menopause, but also of low blood sugar. Also, if menopause symptoms disrupt sleep, there is more chance for a loss of diabetes control.

With lower estrogen levels in the blood, the surface tissues of the urinary tract become thinner, less elastic, and more susceptible to infection. Even before menopause, women with diabetes carry a higher risk of urinary tract and vaginal infections.

Menopause also can cause weight gain, which can require changes in diabetes management. Also because women with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease, more careful attention to dietary cholesterol and fat intake plus regular blood lipid measurements are needed. Changes in eating habits and even cholesterol-lowering medicines may be more
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