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How Menopause Affects Diabetes

separator When you go into menopause, your menstrual periods stop. The time leading up to menopause can last about three to five years, as your body begins the process of producing less and less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Menopause is considered to be complete when you have not had a period for a year.


Fluctuating hormone levels

Some women who have diabetes notice that as their reproductive hormone levels fluctuate, so do their blood sugar levels. It becomes harder than it used to be to predict what your blood sugar will be. It can be something of a difficult adjustment, especially if you have had a good routine down for a long time and pretty much knew what your sugar levels were likely to be.


Additionally, some of the symptoms of menopause may seem like the symptoms you have had with low blood sugar. Mood swings, hot flashes and short term memory loss are common menopausal symptoms, but if you mistake them for blood sugar that is too low, you may try to increase your blood sugar by eating certain snacks, and instead, you could cause your blood sugar to become too high.


Your sleep may become more disrupted at this time as well. It can be difficult enough to sleep well when you have diabetes and you experience low blood sugar episodes at night. Add hot flashes to your sleep, and it gets even harder. And the increased sleep disruption can also lead to even greater fluctuation in blood sugar.


To help keep everything in check, here are some things you can do:

  • Try to check your blood sugar three or four times during the day, and also at night. Keep a record of it.
  • Work closely with your doctor to determine whether your medications need to be adjusted at this point. Share your blood sugar log and describe any new symptoms to your doctor. It is possible that you will need to increase your dosage or add a new medication to your current regimen, but it is also possible that you will need to decrease your dose.

Eventually, it becomes easier to regulate your blood sugar, as your hormone levels stop changing. But the time leading up to menopause can be especially challenging for women who have diabetes, so it is an important time to pay attention to your health. Keep your weight under control, work closely with your doctor and monitor your blood sugar as often as possible.

American Diabetes Association; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders
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