Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Diabetes and menopause – important facts you need to know

Published:Wednesday | December 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMDr Fay Whitbourne

Both diabetes and menopause may produce challenges in blood-glucose control, but by understanding how they interact, you will be able to manage your blood sugar.

After menopause, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar, as their levels fluctuate, hence your blood-sugar level becomes more unpredictable.

 

WEIGHT GAIN

 

If you gain weight at menopause, this may cause you to need a higher dose of oral medication or insulin for your blood sugar.

 

INFECTIONS

 

Both conditions lead to more infections in the bladder and vagina - menopause because of the decline in oestrogen, and diabetes because of the high level of the blood sugar.

 

SEXUAL PROBLEMS

 

Diabetes can damage the nerves in the cells of the vagina, making arousal and orgasm more difficult. Menopause very often causes vaginal dryness, making intercourse unpleasant or downright painful.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

 

- Practise healthy choices. Exercising at least three times weekly and eating a healthy diet will improve symptoms in both conditions.

- Measure your blood sugar more frequently, both night and day, and keep a log. This will help your doctor to know how best to adjust your medication.

- After menopause, your cholesterol levels increase. Ask your doctor if you need to start a cholesterol-lowering medication.

- If hot flashes and night sweats interrupt sleep, discuss this with your doctor.

- Vaginal dryness can easily be helped by using a lubricant or an oestrogen cream.

Dr Fay Whitbourne, MB.,BS, DLM, is a certified menopause practitioner.