Do you experience exhaustion despite getting enough rest? Do your wounds take time to heal? Are you always thirsty? Do you let these things slide as a usual part of life? Don’t. These could be symptoms of diabetes.
Have you wondered if the symptoms of diabetes in women are very specific or any different from those in men? Let’s find out all about the common and unique diabetes symptoms in women.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes in Women and Men
Diabetes, and its predecessor stage, prediabetes, usually affect men and women in similar ways. Prediabetes is a condition in which you have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. A fasting blood glucose level between 100 to 125 mg/dL is usually regarded as prediabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which your body either cannot produce enough of the insulin hormone or cannot use it effectively or both. Insulin is responsible for the uptake of glucose by your body’s cells. Thus, in diabetes, glucose is not taken up by the cells and your blood glucose levels go up.
Most men and women will not have any symptoms of prediabetes, until it develops into Type 2 diabetes. Some prediabetic individuals may show symptoms including:
- Darkening of skin in the armpit, elbows, knees, back, and/or sides of the neck (acanthosis nigricans).
- Skin tags, which are small skin growths.
While some symptoms of diabetes may present differently in men and women, several symptoms are found commonly in both. These symptoms include:
Unique Symptoms of Diabetes in Women
Certain diabetes symptoms are specific to women. These include:
1. Vaginal Yeast Infections
The elevated sugar levels in diabetes also appear in the mucus of the vagina and vulva, serving as a source of nutrition for yeast and causing it to overgrow. Excessive growth of fungi of the genus Candida causes vaginal yeast infections. Signs of vaginal infections include vaginal itching, vaginal discharge, and painful sexual intercourse.
2. Oral Yeast Infections
High blood glucose levels may also cause an overgrowth of yeast of the Candida genus in the oral cavity in women. Oral yeast infections cause a white coating on the tongue and inside the mouth, swollen red gums or inner cheeks, soreness, and trouble eating or swallowing.
3. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
When blood sugar levels rise in diabetes, glucose is also excreted in larger amounts in urine and may act as a breeding ground for microorganisms that cause UTIs in women. Diabetes also makes the immune system less efficient at fighting the microorganisms that cause UTIs, thus leading to an increased incidence of UTIs in women. UTIs cause symptoms such as painful urination, burning sensation, and bloody or cloudy urine.
4. Female Sexual Dysfunction
The high blood glucose levels in diabetes cause impaired estrogen (a group of sex hormones responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system) signaling. This can cause vaginal dryness, decreased sensation, decreased sexual response and orgasm, and nerve damage in women, leading to a reduced sex drive and low sexual satisfaction.
5. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Insulin resistance (a condition in which your body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels) in women with diabetes may lead to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It is characterised by irregular periods, excessive facial hair growth, acne, and thinning hair on the scalp.
Watch out for these common and female-specific symptoms of diabetes, and consult a doctor to get your blood glucose levels checked at the earliest. If you have elevated blood glucose levels (prediabetes) and are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, you may be able to prevent it with timely intervention of your diet and lifestyle.
If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you can manage the condition and prevent complications with healthy lifestyle behaviours and appropriate medications.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs due to insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels. There are several symptoms of diabetes, some are common to men and women, and some are unique to women.
- Some of the symptoms of diabetes common to women and men are blurry vision, exhaustion, slow healing of wounds, increased thirst, increased hunger, and frequent urination.
- The unique diabetes symptoms in women include vaginal yeast infections, oral yeast infections, urinary tract infections, polycystic ovary syndrome, and sexual dysfunction.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
Ideally, you should check for diabetes regularly if you are over 45 years of age. Get yourself checked if you have any of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, such as a higher body mass index, a sedentary lifestyle, or a family history of diabetes.
Observe if you show any symptoms of diabetes such as increased thirst or hunger, frequent urination, slow wound healing, blurry vision etc. and get a prompt diagnosis. The best way to check if you have diabetes is by getting a blood test done to measure your blood glucose levels. You can consult a doctor and get the test done.
You cannot check for diabetes at home. You can only check your blood glucose levels at a given moment. You can check your glucose levels by using a blood glucose home test kit or a glucometer kit. Various glucometer kits are available commercially. After you test your blood glucose levels at home, it is advised to consult a doctor and get tests done at a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis and move forward with the management of diabetes.
While urine is usually clear in diabetes, high blood glucose levels can cause cloudy urine as glucose is excreted through urine. Diabetes may also cause your urine to smell sweet or fruity. If you notice a change in your urine, it is advised to get your blood sugar levels tested immediately.
Darkened skin on the neck, armpits, elbows, knees, and knuckles may be the first sign of prediabetes, a stage before diabetes. Early signs of diabetes include increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, blurry vision, and slow healing of wounds. Unique symptoms of diabetes in women include frequent yeast infections or urinary tract infections.