According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes affects more men than women. However, women with diabetes are at greater risk of developing complications from this chronic health condition than men are.
Our team of women’s health experts at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, in Grand Island and Hastings, Nebraska, understands the differences in health needs between men and women. Here, we examine diabetes in women and the impact it has on health.
Women’s hormones affect blood sugar
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that causes higher than normal blood sugar levels due to problems involving insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps carry sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells. If you have diabetes, you either don’t make insulin (Type 1) or the insulin is unable to do its job (Type 2).
Too much sugar in the blood damages the body. The goal of diabetes management is to normalize blood sugar levels.
Women experience hormonal changes during their menstrual cycle as well as during pregnancy and menopause. These hormonal changes negatively affect the actions of insulin, making it difficult to predict and manage blood glucose levels.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a gynecological condition that affects hormone balance. Women with PCOS are at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Women are more likely to develop complications
Diabetes affects nearly every organ in your body and is linked to many health problems. Women are more likely to develop diabetes-related health complications than men, including diabetic retinopathy (vision loss), neuropathy (nerve pain), and kidney disease.
Women with diabetes also have higher rates of depression.
Women have increased risk of heart disease
One of the most significant differences in how diabetes affects men and women is heart health. Women with diabetes are four times more likely to have a heart attack than men. Diabetic women are also more likely to experience a decline in health and quality of life following a heart attack.
You’re at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Having a family history of diabetes or struggling with excess body weight also puts you at risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells. This type of diabetes usually appears during childhood. Although Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1, the health outcomes for women are the same.
Diabetes is a serious health issue, especially for women. If you have concerns about diabetes or want to learn how to better manage your blood sugars, our team of primary care providers can help. Call Obstetricians & Gynecologists today, or request an appointment online at the office most convenient to you.