You might be thinking “What’s the connection between diabetes and the menopause?”
Well, for ladies reaching that certain age, it can be very traumatic – especially when some of the effects experienced can easily be mistaken for those we have to be aware of when managing our diabetes…
For a diabetic taking medication, keeping blood sugars at the right level is a balancing act. If sugar levels drop too low, because of not eating enough or at the right times, you suffer a hypoglycemia episode (sometimes called ‘hypo’ for short). For me, this usually manifests itself as shaking; irritability; sweating and a faint-headed feeling.
If you are diabetic and have ever had low-blood sugar you may recognize some of these symptoms, amongst others. A quick ‘glucose fix’ usually settles it within 5-10 minutes.
Now, compare that to some of the symptoms of starting the menopause; hot flushes [I call them ‘power-surges’ ;)] – similar to the sweats of a hypo; mood swings – akin to the irritability you might experience during a hypo. It’s very easy to confuse the symptoms you are feeling.
When I first started the menopause, I frequently confused waking at 2 a.m. in the morning in a cold sweat as a hypo and took a quick sugar boost to settle myself. That pushed my blood sugar levels up when I didn’t need it. Not a good idea!
It was only after visiting my Doctor to talk about these frequent, unexpected hypos I discovered I was starting the menopause (I was in my late 40s, so it was rather unexpected, normally it doesn’t occur until early-to-mid 50s).
If you are a lady, with diabetes controlled by medication, and you are in your early 50s and you start having frequent, unexplained hypos – check your sugar levels before ‘treating the condition’. And get your Doctor to check your symptoms. You may be confusing symptoms of diabetes and the menopause.
And guys; if your lady normally has great control of her diabetes and suddenly seems to be showing the same symptoms when she was getting her diabetes into balance (if you knew her then) please be supportive and understanding, she’s going through one hell of an experience, but I promise, she will come through and be her normal, loving and charming self once again.