Reviewed and updated by Di Bush, PhD, Jan 1. 2014
As a woman with diabetes, you may have wondered how diabetes will affect your menopause, and how menopause may affect your diabetes. You may also have questions about taking hormones.
Menopause is defined as the point when your periods stop. Menopause mostly occurs in women around the age of 50, but for some women, like those with diabetes, menopause may come sooner. The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, disturbed sleep, night-sweats, and having a hard time thinking clearly.
You may have noticed that your blood sugar is affected by your menstrual cycle. Hormones can affect blood sugar. The changes in your hormone levels during menopause can also affect your blood sugar.
Some women choose to take hormone replacement therapy or HRT. The hormones used in HRT (estrogen and progesterone) replace the hormones that the body no longer makes. You may have heard that women with diabetes cannot take hormones because of their effects on blood sugar. The doses with HRT though are so low that they do not have much effect. Since hormones can affect your blood sugar, your diabetes medicines may need to be changed too.
Hormones can be good since they can:
- Protect your heart.
- Protect your bones from the loss of calcium that can lead to brittle bones.
- Lessen symptoms such as hot flashes and can help you sleep better and think more clearly.
As with all treatments, there are some risks though such as:
- increased risk for breast cancer
- Estrogen taken alone can increase the risk for uterine cancer. Taking progesterone with the estrogen lessens this risk.
- Spotting or bleeding much like a period
Talk with your provider about HRT and be sure to weigh the good and bad points of HRT so you can decide what is right for you.