Type 2 diabetes risk increases with early and late menopause, according to research findings. Women who experience menopause prior to the age of 46 and after the age of 55 are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Women who experienced their last menstrual period before they hit 46 were 25 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and women who had it after 55 had a 12 percent risk increase – compared to women who entered menopause between the ages of 46 and 55.
Estrogen levels decline after menopause, and this decline has been linked increased body fat and appetite, slower metabolism, and high blood sugar levels.
Lead researcher Erin LeBlanc said, “Our study suggests the optimal window for menopause and diabetes risk is between the ages of 46 and 55. Women who start menopause before or after that window should be aware that they are at higher risk, and should be especially vigilant about reducing obesity, eating a healthy diet, and exercising. These lifestyle changes will help to reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.”
The study also found an association between the length of a woman’s lifetime reproductive cycle and her risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women with the shortest lifetime reproductive cycle had a 37 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women with the longest lifetime reproductive cycle were 23 percent more likely.
How does menopause affect women with diabetes?
Menopause may bring about additional health complications in women who already have diabetes. Some of these challenges include changes in blood sugar levels, weight gain, infections, sleep problems, and sexual problems. The effects of menopause can worsen diabetes, even in a well-managed condition.
Taking control of both menopause and diabetes is possible. Here are some tips to help you manage both conditions.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: eat well, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, and minimize alcohol consumption.
- Measure your blood sugar frequently and record your readings, so your doctor can see if any changes need to be made to your treatment.
- Talk to you doctor about adjusting your diabetes medications.
- Ask your doctor about cholesterol-lowering medications, as women in menopause also have a higher risk of heart disease.
- Seek help for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual response, etc.
By following some of these tips, you can have greater success in managing your diabetes alongside menopause.