How Does Diabetes Affect Women Differently Than It Does Men?


Diseases of any kind do not discriminate based on gender. However, they are dictated by the complex physiology and the difference in this between the genders can impact the way a disease affects the body.

Statistically, men are said to have more cases of diabetes, but women experience more complications caused by it.  Several factors come into play in this regard – from hormonal changes to gender norms and expectations, they all play vital roles in differentiating between the genders with regard to diabetes. 

Even though diabetes is one of the most common conditions affecting millions of Indians, it cannot be considered a simple disease. There are various forms of it, that range from immunological, to lifestyle-based to even hormonal. Depending on the underlying cause behind it, Diabetes can be categorised. The bottom line is that the body is not able to process glucose like it is supposed, because the pancreas is incapable of producing insulin. 

What You Need To Know About Hormones and Diabetes

As the human body changes, with age and time, the hormones can also change. Especially in women, the hormonal changes that occur with their menstrual cycle can impact everything from their moods to their blood glucose levels. The change in female hormones like estrogen and progesterone can cause blood sugar levels to climb and drop without warning. This will require the patient to get tested more frequently and make medication adjustments more often. 

In women with type 1 diabetes, blood sugar levels tend to drop when they are nearing their menopause. This is because of the lowering hormone levels in your body, as a result of which you will need less insulin. In women with type 2 diabetes, especially those who are heavier, menopause doesn’t occur early. 

There have been many instances where symptoms of menopause and those of high/low blood sugar have been confused. Female diabetes patients must pay attention to symptoms like dizziness, sweating, and irritability, by monitoring it. Constant self-monitoring can go a long way in ensuring that any sudden changes in blood sugar don’t go unnoticed. Just make sure that you have a word with your expert doctor regarding the emotional implications of this. 

Woman Testing Her Blood Glucose To Prevent Diabetes Complications

What Are The Social Implications of Diabetes on Women?

While statistics do say that men experience more morbidity as a result of diabetes, there is still a significant section of women who deal with diabetes complications. While male diabetes patients receive the support and care of their family, female patients are more concerned with being a caregiver. This means that the social implications of being a wife or mother make them more susceptible to befalling easily preventable complications. 

In most cases, this amounts to the fact that women experience the worst of risk factors like poor diet, and lack of physical activity, as a result of their gender roles. They spend more time ensuring a healthy diet for their husband, or providing emotional support and guidance for their children, than taking care of themselves. In such cases, women don’t receive the care they need or deserve until it is too late for effective disease management. 

The Final Word…

If you’ve seen your family going through diabetes up close, you must’ve observed how different the lifestyle is for the men as opposed to the women. Even though men are more at risk for diabetes-related morbidities, the people in their life, especially the women, ensure that their disease is as well managed as possible. 

But this often comes at the cost of these women not paying heed to their unhealthy lifestyle and poorly managed diabetes. Especially when they are close to the menopausal age, women need to start routinely monitoring their vitals. This simple habit can make the difference between well managed chronic ailments and serious complications. 

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