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Diabetes is different for women
May 5, 2023—Diabetes doesn’t affect women and men in the same way, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Changes in your hormone levels before and during your period can make blood sugar levels harder to manage. This can happen after menopause too.
Women with diabetes are at a higher risk for certain health problems as well. Here are some examples—and what you can do about them.
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease for everyone, but more so for women than for men. Women with diabetes also have worse survival rates after a heart attack.
Why is that? The American Heart Association says one factor may be differences in treatment, with women less likely to use heart-protective medicines, like statins. But differences in hormones may play a role. And women may be more likely to have other heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol.
How to take charge: Get regular blood pressure and cholesterol tests, and talk to your doctor about medicines that can keep your heart healthy.
Reproductive and urinary tract concerns
Diabetes raises a woman's risk of:
- Fertility problems.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Vaginal dryness.
- Yeast infections.
How to take charge: If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s important to tell your doctor. They can help you find treatments and manage your risks.
Increased odds of diabetes complications
Women have a higher risk of diabetes complications, including:
- Kidney disease.
How to take charge: Ask your doctor if you should be screened for kidney disease. Keep up with preventive care, including regular eye exams. And let your doctor know if you're dealing with depression or other mental health concerns.
3 ways women can live better with diabetes
If you're among the 1 in 9 women in the U.S. living with diabetes, you can take steps to control your condition and live a healthy life. To put yourself on a good path:
- Speak up for yourself. Tell your doctor you want to stay on top of these risks, and ask what you can do.
- Stay active. Even a walk a day can make a difference.
- Make heart-healthy food choices. Smart eating habits can help you manage your blood sugar and lower your heart disease risks at the same time.
You can do this!
Explore our tips on keeping your spirits up when you're managing diabetes. And discover more ways to live your best life in our Diabetes health topic center.
- American Heart Association. "Why Are Women With Diabetes at Greater Risk for Poor Heart Health?" https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/05/14/why-are-women-with-diabetes-at-greater-risk-for-poor-heart-health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Diabetes and Women." https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-and-women.html.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Get Tested for Chronic Kidney Disease." https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/publications-resources/get-tested.html.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. "Diabetes." https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/diabetes.