March 8th 2022 is International Women’s Day. When it comes to diabetes and women’s reproductive health, education is key!
That’s why we have created this diabetes wellness guide for women and mothers.
2022 International Women’s Day Theme
The theme for IWD 2022 is “Break the Bias”.
Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
How Does #BreakTheBias Relate to Women’s Health?
When it comes to health, the IWD mission is:
To assist women to be in a position of power to make informed decisions about their health.
Power, privilege and bias plays out in women’s health care in significant ways. All human beings have biases – we are programmed this way in order to simplify a complex world – and often we aren’t aware of our assumptions.
Gender bias is what we are highlighting this year for International Women’s Day. Gender bias in health care can play out as:
- Delays in diagnosis
- Lack of research into conditions that affect women
- Male-dominated practitioners and medical industry
- Women often struggle to be heard or believed when describing symptoms
- Lack of trust or faith in medical care, leading to avoidance of seeking care.
These are just some of the ways that gender bias can have an impact on women’s health, and why it’s so important to #BreakTheBias. For women with diabetes, the bias and inequality can be even more conspicuous.
Diabetes and Women’s Reproductive Health
We’ve collected the diabetes health advice that best serves women who may be mothers, are trying to conceive, or are experiencing feminine health concerns.
Please let us know in the comments below if you have other questions about diabetes and women’s reproductive health, or diabetes and women’s general health.
Diabetes and Menstrual Cycles
Menstrual cycles can making diabetes management more difficult. Hormone changes during periods can make blood glucose changes unpredictable and thus, harder to manage. Also, they can cause cravings that lead to unhealthy eating.
The same advice of trying to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercise, and get enough sleep will help during this time. However, you must also remember to check your blood glucose levels more often during your cycle.
If you take insulin, speak to your doctor about adjusting your dosage during your period if needed.
Diabetes and Yeast or Urinary Tract Infections
High blood glucose levels increase the risk of yeast infections. Also, a common diabetes complication among women is bladders that don’t empty completely, increasing the risk of UTIs.
To prevent yeast and urinary tract infections, commit to your diabetes management plan and aim to keep your blood glucose levels in target range as much as possible. Sufficient hydration and cotton undergarments also help.
Diabetes and Getting Pregnant
Women with diabetes sometimes have challenges when trying to conceive. Starting a family is just one of many strong reasons why women with diabetes need to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
According to the CDC and ADA, high blood sugar can increase your risk for:⠀
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure)⠀
- Delivery by cesarean section (C-section)⠀
- Miscarriage or stillbirth⠀
- Birth defects: A baby’s organs form during the first 2 months of pregnancy, and high blood sugar during that time can cause birth defects. ⠀
High blood sugar during pregnancy can also increase the chance that your baby could:⠀
- Be born too early⠀
- Weigh too much (making delivery harder)⠀
- Have breathing problems or low blood sugar right after birth.
To avoid such complications, work closely with your diabetes care team before, during and after a pregnancy.
By looking after your nutrition, exercise, medication, and more with your care team, you can manage your blood glucose levels effectively and have a safe pregnancy and healthy child.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) affects women when they are pregnant. Recent statistics suggest that approximately one in seven pregnant women are affected.
This occurs in women who did not have diabetes before pregnancy and develop an insulin resistance during pregnancy. The reason for this resistance is because hormones block the mother’s insulin.
GDM does not always show symptoms in pregnant women. It is diagnosed with a standard test in the second trimester.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, work closely with your endocrinologist to create a diabetes management plan that will keep your blood glucose levels in target range. This might include medication like insulin to avoid health complications for your baby.
It can be managed, but please do not ignore gestational diabetes. Most women deliver healthy babies with a gestational diagnosis. However, it should be taken seriously as unmanaged diabetes during pregnancy can result in complications for both mother and baby.
Diabetes and Menopause
Menopause includes a decrease in estrogen production by your body, which in turn can affect blood glucose levels unpredictably, making diabetes management more difficult.
Weight gain is common among women going through menopause, which usually affects diabetes management as well as insulin dosages. Also, menopause symptoms like hot flashes and sweating can affect stress levels and sleep quality, risking more unpredictable blood glucose changes.
Risk of cardiac disease increases after menopause, so make sure to start visiting a cardiologist to discuss regular checkups.
Follow up with your doctor to make necessary changes to your diabetes management plan during this time.
Diabetes and Breastfeeding
“If we wear our nursing covers backwards like capes, then everyone can see we’re breastfeeding superheroes.” Cassi Clark
Breastfeeding is one of the warmest and most exhausting experiences in the journey of motherhood; and of course, diabetes can make breastfeeding all the more challenging.
The American Diabetes Association provides the following useful breastfeeding tips for mothers with diabetes:
- Start patiently, attempting breastfeeding a few times a day as soon as possible after delivery. Also, make sure to get lots of skin-to-skin contact in the first days.
- Breastfeeding can be challenging and it is common to struggle with it at first. Make sure to discuss any issues with your doctor or lactation expert while supporting with trusted formula milk during this time.
- Make sure to eat something small before breastfeeding and to have appropriate snacks with easy access in case you get a low while nursing.
- Always check your blood glucose levels before and after breastfeeding and keep in mind that breastfeeding can make it more difficult to manage your blood glucose levels.
- Make sure to stay hydrated!
- Insulin is safe to use during breastfeeding. However, make sure to check any other medications with your doctor. They will also let you know if your insulin amounts need to change. ⠀
- We also want to remind you to stay positive and relaxed if you face difficulties with breastfeeding. You are doing your best and your baby will get all the nutrients and love they need from you no matter what!
Source: CDC & ADA
Help Us Keep Women With Diabetes Healthy, and their Babies and Children Thriving
You can help support us to educate others about diabetes and women’s reproductive health by sharing this article with your friends. Share it on Facebook, take a screen shot and post it on Instagram (and tag us @diapointme), and email it to your contacts.
Do you have more questions about diabetes and women’s health? Ask us in the comments below!
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