Women with diabetes go into menopause earlier
According to the German Diabetes Society, over six million people in Germany suffer from diabetes. Health experts say the overall course of the disease in women is somewhat worse than in men. Not only do women with diabetes go through menopause faster, they are also at significantly higher risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases. Experts explain what diabetics should consider.
Gender difference also in diabetes
Health experts repeatedly point out that the gender factor in diabetes is of considerable importance. For example, women with diabetes are known to be significantly more susceptible to heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases than male diabetics. Women with diabetes also go into menopause earlier than women without diabetes. The reasons are the falling estrogen, the fluctuating blood sugar levels and the tendency to gain weight. The German Diabetes Society (DDG) explains in a message what diabetics should consider.
What diabetics should consider
The DDG advises women with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar closely and recommends that the therapy be adapted to the new hormone level if necessary. With hormone therapy, advantages and disadvantages should be weighed individually.
“In women with diabetes, the egg cell is depleted more quickly. This means that they go into menopause earlier, ”explains DDG expert Professor Dr. med. Petra-Maria Schumm-Draeger.
Scientists believe that diabetes-related vascular changes are the cause of this accelerated aging process. As the ovaries dry up, the hormone estrogen, which affects insulin sensitivity, also disappears.
"However, many patients do not know this connection and are surprised by sudden fluctuations in blood sugar," reports the medical director of the Center for Internal Medicine Fünf Höfe in Munich.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels in menopause
The following applies: Even patients with diabetes that have been well-adjusted to date suffer from fluctuating blood sugar levels in the menopause, since the estrogen does not decrease continuously, but often abruptly.
"The increased stress caused by sleep disorders and hot flashes does the rest to negatively affect blood sugar levels," emphasizes Schumm-Draeger.
The Munich internist therefore recommends diabetes patients to deal with the issue of menopause in good time.
"It is advisable to seek advice from the treating diabetologist in good time," says the DDG expert. Because estrogen deficiency not only reduces insulin sensitivity, but also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
"In addition, one must not forget that the hormonal change can take up to ten years - a well-regulated blood sugar metabolism is essential for healthy aging," added DDG President Professor Dr. Dirk Müller-Wieland.
Move enough and eat consciously
In general, patients with both type 2 and type 1 diabetes should urgently adjust their lifestyle to the new situation.
Regular exercise can naturally help lower high blood sugar.
Above all, a conscious diet is important, whereby care should be taken to eat fewer calories than before.
"Few people know that the basic calorie requirement is significantly reduced in this phase of life, so that unfortunately fewer calories are needed to keep the body weight stable," says Schumm-Draeger.
If the patient does not adjust her eating habits, there is a risk of being overweight and resulting complications such as cardiovascular diseases.
Menopausal symptoms are often confused with symptoms of low blood sugar
In addition, diabetes patients often mistake typical menopausal symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and sweating as symptoms of hypoglycaemia and counter this with increased food intake.
"This also leads to obesity and poorer blood sugar control," says Schumm-Draeger. More frequent blood sugar measurements help to avoid the misunderstanding.
There is no general answer to whether a woman benefits from hormone therapy. "We recommend carefully considering hormone therapy for people who are overweight and hypertensive," says Schumm-Draeger.
The treatment is rather unsuitable for patients with uterine or breast cancer. "In any case, the advantages and disadvantages between doctor and patient should be weighed individually," emphasizes DDG President Müller-Wieland. (ad)