Diabetes affects both men and women, but there are some differences in how it impacts both genders. Women with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease than men and they are seen to have more severe complications and adverse outcomes. Awareness about these differences can help women take greater precautions and timely action to minimize the risk of severe complications.
Many symptoms and complications of diabetes are common to both men and women. However, there are certain complications that are unique to women because of physiological differences and differences in the way hormones and inflammation act in women. Here are some of the common complications that women with diabetes face.
Poorly managed diabetes, which leads to spikes in blood glucose levels, can trigger an overgrowth of yeast. Yeast infections are caused by the Candida fungus, which is normally present in the vagina. However, under such favorable conditions, there is an overgrowth of the fungus, leading to vaginal thrush, vaginal yeast infections, and oral infections.
The common signs of having these infections include:
Excessive and persistent itchiness
Sore and sensitive vaginal area
Pain during sexual intercourse
White coating on the tongue in case of oral infections
Women with diabetes are more susceptible to urinary tract infections as compared to men. Unlike vaginal infections, UTIs are caused due to bacterial growth inside the urinary tract.
Common symptoms of UTIs in women may include:
Pain while urinating
Burning sensation in the vagina
Cloudy, turbid, bloody, or dark urine
UTIs pose a huge threat as such infections can also reach the kidneys if not dealt with swiftly and this increases the risk of life threatening kidney disease.
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome adversely affects insulin levels or insulin sensitivity in the body. The condition is known to cause hormonal imbalances and is often associated with the presence of ovarian cysts. Reduced insulin sensitivity, described as insulin resistance, leads to a rise in blood sugar levels, which is why PCOS is often linked to diabetes.
Other common symptoms and complications of women suffering from PCOS include:
Thinning of hair
Irregular menstrual cycles
Uncontrolled or irregular weight gain
Aside from the psychological impact of diabetes, female sexual function can be adversely affected as a result of diabetic neuropathy and reduced blood flow. Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs when blood sugar levels are high. Although this type of nerve damage most commonly affects the feet and hands, it can also affect the genital regions
Common symptoms of this kind of female sexual dysfunction include:
Pain during sexual intercourse
Very often these symptoms and conditions that are unique to women can be indicative of poorly managed diabetes. Failing to address these problems and control diabetes can increase the risk of more serious complications. This is why it is vital that women with diabetes pay more heed to self care measures as this is critical to ensure higher quality of life.