Diabetes is the ninth leading direct cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths each year, most of them were pre-mature! Diabetes is different for women than it is for men, despite affecting women in men in almost equal numbers! Compared with men with diabetes, women with diabetes have
- A higher risk for heart disease. (4 times in women, 2 times in men)
- Lower survival rates and a poorer quality of life
- A higher risk for blindness
- A higher risk for depression. (2 times than the men)
But why diabetes affects women and men differently?
- Some of the complications of diabetes in women are more difficult to diagnose.
- Women often have different kinds of heart disease than men.
- Hormones and inflammation act differently in women.
Which are the major risk factors for diabetes in women?
If you -
- are older than 45
- are overweight or obese
- have a family history of diabetes (parent or sibling)
- are Asian-American
- have had a baby with a birth weight of more than 4 kg
- have had gestational diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- exercise less than three times a week
- have other health conditions linked to problems using insulin, such as PCOS
- have a history of heart disease or stroke
Many symptoms for diabetes are the same in men and women. however, few symptoms are unique
Vaginal yeast infections and vaginal thrush - These infections are common in women. When an infection develops in the vaginal area, symptoms include:
- vaginal discharge
- painful sex
Urinary infections - The risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI) is higher in women who have diabetes. UTIs develop when bacteria enter the urinary tract. These infections can cause:
- painful urination
- burning sensation
- bloody or cloudy urine
Female sexual dysfunction – Damage to nerves may also affect sensation in the vaginal area and lower a woman’s sex drive
Polycystic ovary syndrome – Occurs when the female produces a higher amount of male hormones and is susceptible to getting PCOS. Signs of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) include:
- irregular periods
- weight gain
At all stages of life, women’s bodies present obstacles for managing diabetes and blood sugar. Timely intervention to prevent or delay diabetes, avoid complications and manage symptoms are necessary.
- Diabetes and Women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accessed from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-and-women.html
- Diabetes. Office on Women’s Health (OASH). U.S Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/diabetes
- How Diabetes Affects Women. Accessed from https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/symptoms-in-women
- Women. Get empowered by staying informed. American Diabetes Association (ADA). Accessed from https://www.diabetes.org/resources/women
- Women & diabetes: Our right to a healthy future. Indian J Med Res. 2017 Nov;146(5):553-556.