Monday, July 1, 2019

Diabetes and Menopause: Is it a hot flash or a low blood sugar? Or both?

     On the blog today I have LaurieAnn Scher, a Diabetes Educator who is here to spread awareness on diabetes and its relationship to menopause, and how to manage both. Please welcome her to Meno Mama's site with lots of comment love!

    Diabetes and Menopause: Is it a hot flash or a low blood sugar? Or both???

If menopause was not fun enough on its own, when you have diabetes, pre-diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, you enter an entirely new definition of fun. Menopause and the peri-menopausal years leading up to it are a time in the lives of women with diabetes that can be challenging because they feel more unpredictable. Women with larger amounts of body fat may go through menopause later (and/or more gradually (yippee!)) because fat makes estrogen levels drop more slowly.

Many of the menopausal symptoms that occur like night sweats, irritability, hot flashes, and dizziness are also symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels. It is very important for women with diabetes to check blood sugars and to speak with healthcare providers about these symptoms. Ignoring them as “just due to the change” can be unsafe and even life-threatening to someone with diabetes especially if they struggle with hypoglycemia unawareness (the condition where a person does not recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar).

During menopause and peri-menopause, body changes occur that may be mistaken for, or exacerbated by, diabetes. These include weight gain, difficulties with sexual arousal, sleep issues, moodiness, yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTI’s). Changes in hormone levels, insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar fluctuations may cause weight gain, changes in mood and issues with sleep (independent of those lovely night sweats). The decrease in hormones may cause changes in vaginal tissue and if there is diabetic neuropathy in the nerves that innervate the vagina due to damage from years of elevated blood sugars, sexual arousal and satisfaction may be compromised. Medications in the SGLT2 class (canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin) lead to higher sugar levels in excreted urine. This puts women on these medications at an even greater risk of developing yeast infections and UTI’s adding to the already elevated risk during menopause.

So what’s a girl with diabetes to do you ask? Get adequate rest, drink your water and be kind to your body! Watch your weight by eating well (cutting down on your carbohydrate intake helps - and I mean cut down, not out) and moving your body (we have an app for that). Remember that worrying about what is going on is not helpful. Stress negatively affects your blood sugars. Rest assured that once you are post-menopausal, you will likely have fewer blood fluctuations from hormones.

Moving your body during this period is important for many reasons. Exercise improves your insulin sensitivity which allows your body to use less insulin to get the job done (the job of moving glucose into the cells for energy). This means that less insulin is in your bloodstream and this allows your body to use fat for energy, not store it. High insulin levels lead to weight gain (especially around the middle) in menopausal women and people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity which allows your energy pathways to work better during and after exercise so less body fat is stored.

So find things that you like to do for physical activity and do them. Enjoy moving because it feels good and will help you manage through menopause more easily. And as I said above, we have an app for that with more educational information, a variety of trainers and fun exercises that you can do by yourself or with a friend on your computer or phone. As someone with diabetes, it will help keep you safe and will ensure that the physical activity that you perform will be effective and help you manage your diabetes. Visit us at

About LaurieAnn Scher, MS, RD, CDE

With over 30 years in practice, LaurieAnn has been drawn to new innovations. With a focus on helping people with diabetes challenge the status quo for their best outcomes, LaurieAnn allows person-centric solutions to guide how she functions as a Diabetes Educator. She currently serves as the President of the Connecticut Coordinating Body of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), on the DANA Editorial Board of the AADE, as the Leader of the Technology COI and on the leadership team for the Exercise Physiology Special Interest Group of the American Diabetes Association. LaurieAnn is the Chief Strategy Officer and Certified Diabetes Educator for Fitscript, creator of the GlucoseZone digital exercise therapeutic that provides exercise guidance for people with diabetes. LaurieAnn was awarded the 2019 Diabetes Educator of the year for the American Association of Diabetes Educators Connecticut Chapter. She holds an undergraduate degree in Clinical Nutrition from Cornell University and a Master’s Degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University, Teachers College. She can be reached at


  1. This would also be a good time to switch to the ketogenic diet. It will help stave off diabetes and may even help you lose an ounce or two.

  2. I am glad I went through menopause before I became diabetic



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