Menopause and Blood Sugar
Menopause is the time of life when a woman’s menstrual cycle comes to an end, and as a result, she experiences various symptoms linked to this. Because her female reproductive hormones, namely progesterone and estrogen, significantly decrease*, a number of changes occur in her body. These changes can also affect the amount and control of blood sugar in her body. Although there has not been extensive research linking menopause and the levels of blood sugar, doctors believe that there is a link between the two. Just like each woman experiences different menopause symptoms at varying levels, so blood sugar levels during menopause vary significantly. Some women experience lower levels, while others experience much higher levels. With some women, however, the blood sugar levels do not change during menopause.
Symptom of Blood Sugar
The symptoms of low and high blood sugar vary. If a woman has high blood sugar, then her body does not have enough insulin to regulate the amount of blood sugar in her body. She is likely to experience nausea, blurred vision, extreme thirst, extreme hunger, drowsiness and the need to urinate frequently. If a woman has low blood sugar, then the opposite is true – she has too much insulin for the blood sugar in her body. The symptoms she may experience include sweating, weakness, extreme hunger, tiredness, anxiety, fast heartbeat, dizziness and irritability.
What Causes Height Blood Sugar at Menopause?
During menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease* significantly, affecting a number of regular bodily functions. One of the effects that these lower hormonal levels have on the body’s cells is that they change the way cells respond to insulin. In most women, this will result in higher levels of blood sugar. In some women, there will be fluctuating levels of blood sugar. Both these conditions place a menopausal woman at greater risk for diabetes.
The Effects of Menopause on Diabetes
If a woman is already suffering from diabetes when she enters menopause, then she will find that there will be changes brought about as a direct result of the menopause. Her blood sugar levels may fluctuate more often and become more unpredictable than they were before menopause. She may find that she gains weight during menopause as a result of the double punch – menopause and diabetes. She may also find that she suffers from more infections of the urinary tract or the vagina. Furthermore, the lack of adequate sleep during menopause may make it more difficult for her body to control the levels of blood sugar.
What to Expect Diabetes and Menopause?
Although there have not been extensive research studies looking at the link between menopause and diabetes, the results of several research studies show conflicting results. Firstly, some studies indicate that insulin decreases* during menopause, while others report that insulin increases* or remains the same.
Menopause and Blood Sugar Fluctuations
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels during menopause are caused by the lower levels of estrogen. This hormone controls the cells response to insulin, and also seems to influence the production and secretion of insulin in the body.
Can Menopause Raise Blood Sugar Levels?
Some studies have shown that when insulin production decreases* during menopause, the secretion of insulin also decreases*. This means that, even though a woman’s body may be producing lower levels of insulin than she really needs, it takes longer than usual for this insulin to leave the body. This definitely affects the levels of blood sugar during menopause, leading to fluctuations that can be detrimental to the body.
How Control of Blood Sugar Levels During Menopause?
In order to control blood sugar during menopause, a woman who has diabetes (or is at risk of diabetes) should consider regularly measuring her blood sugar level. This will help her keep tabs on when and how often during the day the blood sugar level fluctuates. Keeping a record of these readings will help the doctor recommend the best course of treatment. Eating healthy, balanced meals will also help control blood sugar, as will regular exercise.
The risk factors that place a menopausal woman at greater risk of contracting diabetes include a high sugar diet, lack of exercise, overweight, heavy smoker or drinker, and menopause.
In order to diagnose diabetes, a doctor will usually run a glucose tolerance test. This will help the doctor ascertain how your body responds to glucose (or sugar), and ultimately how well the insulin production in the body matches the amount of blood sugar. The A1C test (also known as the glycated hemoglobin test) is used to gauge the average blood sugar level in your body in the last 2 to 3 months. This test measures how much of the hemoglobin (in percentage) has sugar around it. If the level is high, then it means the body has poor blood sugar control and therefore a higher risk for diabetes.
The most common treatment for diabetes is insulin. But if a menopausal woman suffers from fluctuating blood sugar levels, then she should eat a healthy diet coupled with a regular, vigorous exercise program. She should also discuss with her doctor various lifestyle changes she could make to decrease* her diabetes risk – for example lower stress levels and getting enough sleep.