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Menopause and Diabetes

Podcast Episode 21 transcript.

Listen to Apple, Spotify, and our website - or wherever you get your podcasts!

Today, I’m talking about Menopause & Diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes happens when the body cannot make enough insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose. Type 1 diabetes is not linked with age or obesity; type 2 diabetes is.

If you do not have diabetes, perimenopause and menopause do not directly cause diabetes. However, as the hormone levels change during perimenopause, the risk of developing diabetes increases.

This is mainly because the body begins to store fat around the middle of the body, which affects how insulin works and may lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when your body’s cells do not adequately respond to insulin and your blood levels of glucose increase. This may also happen in women who have a healthy weight.

Fluctuations in hormone levels can make it more difficult to control blood glucose levels, causing them to swing erratically for no apparent reason.

Other risk factors for type 2 diabetes are leading a sedentary lifestyle - having a family history, and having or developing high blood pressure.

If you have diabetes, you will be aware of hypoglycaemia, which is where the blood glucose levels drop too low.

Some menopausal symptoms, such as hot sweats and palpitations, are very similar to hypoglycaemia, so you may need to check your blood glucose more often. If it’s a hypo, treat it as you usually would. Always deal with the hypo first if it’s a hypo combined with a hot flush.

The following tips can help you manage your blood glucose levels and menopause symptoms and reduce associated risk factors.

  1. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, as both can disturb sleep and make hot flushes worse. Alcohol is also very high in calories, so cutting it down will help you manage your weight.

  2. Quit smoking as it increases your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis

  3. Stay active - This helps your insulin to control your blood glucose more effectively. It is beneficial to go for a walk after a meal.

  4. Nutrition: Cut down on processed foods and increase your fibre, fruit, vegetable, and whole grain intake. This helps control weight and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. 

  5. Check your blood levels regularly and discuss your options with your doctors, pharmacist or nurse. Blood Pressure and cholesterol must be checked periodically to screen for cardiovascular disease.

  6. Although HRT can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it should not be started for that reason.

If in doubt, don’t just assume or struggle in silence - speak to your healthcare professionals.


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