A recent article at Healio – a resource for medical news, education and information for physicians and health professionals, presented information on the importance of improving the understanding of the impact of hormonal changes when working with females with diabetes.
Hormonal changes can make management a lot more cumbersome to navigate compared to males with diabetes. The fact that hormones can add more risk factors when living with diabetes is one key takeaway. It is hard to evaluate these risk factors because women in studies may be at different stages of hormone impact. Some may be early adults, or planning a pregnancy which may include hormone use and some may be pregnant or nursing or entering perimenopause or menopause. Each of these times will require a change in how the woman manages diabetes.
There are many risk factors to consider as a woman with diabetes. Risks should not be overlooked when discussing management strategies.
Some of the factors that impact cardiovascular health include
weight fluctuation (which may coincide with pregnancy or postpartum)
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
history of gestational diabetes.
Diabetes almost doubles the risk of a heart attack for women and carries a 50+% greater risk of coronary heart disease compared to men with diabetes. Women with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk for stroke compared to those with type 2 diabetes or those without diabetes at all. Since women with diabetes are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, it is important to know prevention strategies that may go together with glucose regulation.
Other risk factors to consider also coincide with glucose management. The more elevated or variable the glucose levels are, the higher the risk for yeast and urinary tract infections, increased difficulty in conception, harder to manage glucose around monthly cycles as well as less predictable changes during perimenopause and menopause. Beyond the well-known complications of diabetes, these are additional things that can be caused by elevated glucose levels. When you know the things that diabetes can impact, then it is also important to understand what tools are available to use that can help a woman navigate each of the times of change in life.
Proper use of technology and newer medications we have as well as working with an educator who can help you pick the right things for your stage of life can be priceless. There is a lot of work to be done – advocate for yourself and ask questions if you do not know how to make improvements. If you find something you think may help you tighten up your management, always bring that to your clinical team for discussion. Ask about your heart health and evaluate what medications you are on each time you visit with your provider. There are many tests as well as lab work that can point out problem areas that could go along with glucose and lifestyle regulation.
If you need some assistance with management while trying to navigate hormones and different stages of life, please reach out to our team. I have a special interest in women’s health and strive to assist clients with understanding the variables and adjustment strategies based on where you are in life!
Integrated Diabetes Services is the worldwide leader in one-on-one consulting for people who use insulin. Diabetes “coaching” services are available in-person and remotely via phone and the internet for children and adults.