The Connection Between Menopause, Diabetes and Health
For many women, menopause means much more than simply the end of fertility, it can also be a time of physical and psychological challenges, as well as connected health risks that appear or worsen during this hormonal transition. Menopause and diabetes have a very strong connection, with evidence establishing that the risk of diabetes increases during perimenopause and menopause.
How Does Menopause Cause Diabetes?
When hormone levels change during menopause, some women develop resistance to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Because of insulin resistance, the body can’t process sugar as efficiently as before, and glucose levels will tend to remain higher, putting the woman at risk for prediabetes, which can turn into Type 2 diabetes.
Risk Factors for Women in Menopause
The connection between menopause and diabetes is particularly relevant for women who are overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, suffer from phenotypic or genetic defects of mitochondrial metabolism, or have other health problems such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Menopausal women are also likely to have abdominal fat, which can lead to changes in insulin sensitivity and the associated increase in diabetes risk.
Managing Diabetes During Menopause
There are a number of steps menopausal women can take to reduce their risk of developing diabetes, as well as to manage diabetes as it develops. These include:
- Eating a balanced diet high in fiber and low in sugar, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol.
- Getting regular physical activity to help the body process insulin more efficiently.
- Monitoring blood sugar levels regularly to identify any changes.
- Determining the cause of insulin resistance and working with a medical professional to manage it.
It’s important to remember that diabetes is a serious medical condition that can affect menopausal women, so managing it is essential. If you’re approaching menopause and have concerns about your risk of diabetes, talk to your doctor.