Exploring the link between diabetes & early menopause

Exploring the link between diabetes & early menopause

By: Shona Wilkinson

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. However, recent research suggests that women with diabetes may experience this transition earlier than their non-diabetic counterparts. There is an intriguing connection between diabetes and early menopause that goes both ways. Here we discuss and consider the role of hormones and diet in managing these conditions.

The link between diabetes and early menopause

Studies reveal that women with diabetes are more likely to enter menopause at an earlier age. This finding raises questions about the potential bidirectional relationship between diabetes and menopause. 

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Does menopause influence diabetes risk?

Research suggests that the hormonal changes that occur during menopause can have an impact on a woman's risk of developing diabetes. The drop in oestrogen levels during menopause may affect how cells respond to insulin, leading to insulin resistance. This hormonal shift can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in women who are already predisposed to the condition due to genetics or lifestyle factors.

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Oestrogen and progesterone's role in insulin response

Oestrogen and progesterone, two key hormones in a woman's reproductive cycle, can influence how cells respond to insulin. Oestrogen tends to have a positive effect, improving insulin sensitivity and promoting glucose uptake by cells. On the other hand, progesterone's effects on insulin are more complex, potentially causing fluctuations in blood sugar levels. 

Discover our Menopause Hub | Resources to help support women through all stages of menopause.

Types of diabetes linked to early menopause

While the exact type of diabetes associated with early menopause is not specified in the available research, it is important to note that the risk appears to be more pronounced in women with type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is often linked to lifestyle factors including obesity and physical inactivity, both of which can affect the timing of menopause.

The role of diet in managing diabetes and menopause

Diet plays a crucial role in managing both diabetes and the symptoms of menopause. A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean or plant proteins and healthy fats can help stabilise blood sugar levels and manage weight, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Learn more in 'Nutrition for the menopause'.

Additionally, certain foods, including those high in phytoestrogens (e.g. soy products), may help alleviate some menopausal symptoms by mimicking oestrogen's effects in the body. You can also find phytoestrogens in MenoFriend®an acclaimed plant-based formula including clinically tested botanicals and minerals to relieve common symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause

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Preventing diabetes during menopause

To reduce the risk of developing diabetes during menopause, women should focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are key factors in diabetes prevention. Consulting a healthcare provider for regular check-ups and diabetes screenings is also essential, especially for those with a family history of diabetes.

You may also be interested in reading 'Symptoms of high and low blood sugar' and 'Is oat milk good for diabetes?'.

Managing blood sugar during menopause

Women experiencing menopause should monitor their blood sugar levels regularly. If insulin resistance becomes a concern, intervention may be necessary. 

The link between diabetes and early menopause is a complex and intriguing one. Hormones like oestrogen and progesterone play significant roles in this relationship, affecting insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

To reduce the risk of diabetes during menopause, it's essential for women to prioritise a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet and regular exercise.

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