Diabetes and menopause: What you can do

Menopause can wreak havoc on your diabetes control. But there's plenty you can do to better manage diabetes and menopause.

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Odds are, healthy lifestyle choices — such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly — are the cornerstone of your diabetes treatment plan. Healthy foods and regular physical activity can help you feel your best after menopause, too.
  • Measure your blood sugar frequently. You may need to check your blood sugar level more often than usual during the day, and occasionally during the night. Keep a log of your blood sugar readings and symptoms. Your doctor may use the details to adjust your diabetes treatment plan as needed. Your doctor may also recommend regular hemoglobin A1C testing to reflect your average blood sugar level for the two- to three- month period before the test.
  • Ask your doctor about adjusting your diabetes medications. If your average blood sugar level increases, you may need to increase the dosage of your diabetes medications or begin taking a new medication — especially if you gain weight or reduce your level of physical activity. Likewise, if your average blood sugar level decreases, you may need to reduce the dosage of your diabetes medications.
  • Ask your doctor about cholesterol-lowering medication. If you have diabetes, you're at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk increases even more when you reach menopause. To reduce the risk, eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Your doctor may recommend cholesterol-lowering medication as well.
  • Seek help for menopausal symptoms. If you're struggling with hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual response or other menopausal symptoms, remember that treatment is available. For example, your doctor may recommend a vaginal lubricant to restore vaginal moisture or vaginal estrogen therapy to correct thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls (vaginal atrophy). If weight gain is a problem, a registered dietitian can help you revise your meal plans. For some women, hormone therapy is an option.

Diabetes and menopause is a twin challenge. Work closely with your doctor to ease the transition.

Jan. 18, 2012 See more In-depth