Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases which happens when someone’s body has trouble processing or producing insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. It affects anyone, no matter the lifestyle, age or sex.
However, in recent years, diabetes has been affecting women more than men. Symptoms are the same as in men, with some additional problems like yeast infection, sexual dysfunction, polycystic ovary syndrome and so on.
Diabetes can be hard on women, causing depression, eating disorders and various other issues. It is even harder on young women planning to have children or on pregnant women who get diabetes during pregnancy.
With all of these issues in mind, we have compiled a guide to living with diabetes as a female.
Pregnancy and diabetes
Many women wonder if pregnancy with diabetes is safe for them and their babies. It can be if you learn to manage your condition during pregnancy. If you are planning to get pregnant, try to get your blood sugar levels as close to the target range as possible.
If you are pregnant, your blog glucose levels need to be tracked more often during pregnancy.
Your baby needs energy from glucose like you do but blood sugar level that is too high could harm your baby in many ways.
Gestational diabetes is also a big issue - it strikes 9.2% of women. It will probably go away after pregnancy but you have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes and should check your health every few years.
However, there are ways to manage your disease:
With proper nutrition based on fruit, vegetables and whole grains you can get your diabetes under control. Work closely with your healthcare provider on creating meal plans that will help you have a healthy pregnancy.
Exercise can be hard on pregnant women but it’s good for managing your blood sugar levels and remaining healthy. You shouldn’t exercise on your own, without consulting your doctor - especially so if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy.
- Medical support
Track your blood sugar levels regularly during pregnancy to record any spikes. Consult your healthcare provider on any issues that concern you before you make any changes. See if you need to change your medication or if you should take some vitamins.
Diabetes and depression
Diabetes also causes depression in women. No one has a clear answer as to why this happens. However, scientists guess that it happens because of hormonal factors and stress of living with a chronic condition.
Women experience depression about twice as often as men.
If you are feeling the symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental issues, you should consult your doctor on getting some help. Find a good therapist who will provide a suitable treatment. Connect with other women with type 2 diabetes so you can have a supportive environment. Help yourself understand that diabetes is not your fault and that you can have a happy and healthy life with it.
‘Because this is such a big issue with women, the first thing we need to do is provide support. Living with a chronic disease is difficult and life changes are stressful both on the body and on the mind. There are many forums and groups online where women share their stories and support each other.’says Mina Parks, a Healthy Lifestyle Blogger atOrigin Writings and Writemyx.
Female sexual dysfunction
Almost 42% of women with type 2 diabetes report having sexual dysfunction. Diabetes can cause dulled libido due to changes in blood sugar level, depression and hormonal changes.
It can also cause pain or discomfort during intercourse, vaginally dryness and reduced sensation during sex. All of this can add to the stress of having diabetes.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, consult your doctor to determine what are the causes and how to improve your condition. Talk to your therapist as well as your partner. Explain to them how you feel and invite them to be a part of your journey to the solution.
Eating disorders happen more often with women living with diabetes. This especially happens when diabetes is uncontrolled and the body breaks down fat and muscle to save energy.
You need to control your blood sugar levels meticulously.
‘Unhealthy patterns like binging or purging can happen. Even though losing weight can seem like a good thing to many women, this can cause serious complications. ‘says Dana Cavendish, writer and editor at 1DayWrite and AcademicBrits.
Healthy food choices
While medication for diabetes exists, sometimes food can help a lot in keeping it under control. Healthy food like fruit, vegetables and whole grain is beneficial to your condition.
Avoid pastries, sweets, alcohol, juices and sodas, breads and pastas. Consult your doctor on providing healthy meal plans and recipes that could help you manage your disease.
Diabetes comes with a lot of risk factors.
You are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or obese, over 45, have a family history of diabetes, have high blood pressure, have had gestational diabetes in the past, are not physically active, have depression or have had a stroke or a heart disease.
If you fit in any or multiple of these categories, it’s important that you check your health frequently, with a focus on blood sugar levels.
Living with diabetes isn’t easy. This condition can cause many additional issues that could further deteriorate your physical and mental state. Work closely with your doctor and listen to their advices on managing your type 2 diabetes.