Medically reviewed by Brad Campbell, MD McLeod OB/GYN Associates
Menopause and diabetes constitute a close relationship to your health – if you experience menopause too early or too late – or have diabetes before menopause. Let’s try to unravel this a bit.
“We’ve known for some time of a connection between diabetes and menopause (after a women’s last period),” says McLeod OB/GYN Brad Campbell, MD. “Recent research paints a much clearer picture of what you can expect.”
A study released in July 2016 revealed that women who experience “early” menopause (before age 46) have a 25% greater likelihood of type 2 diabetes than women experiencing menopause between ages 46 to 55. Women who don’t hit menopause until after age 55 – “late” menopause – have a 12% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In this country, the average age that women reach menopause is 51.
Although the exact cause isn’t clear, researchers believe diabetes may be related to the drop in estrogen in a woman’s body after she no longer has periods. This drop links to decreased metabolism along with increased appetite and body fat. A link to high-blood sugar also occurs, possibly a forerunner of diabetes.
Another timing-related issue for menopause and diabetes focuses on the “lifetime reproductive cycle” – the time from your first period to your last. If your lifetime reproductive cycle is less than 30 years, you have a 37% higher risk of diabetes, than women with a reproductive cycle of 36 to 40 years. A lifetime reproductive cycle longer than 45 years means a 23% increased risk of diabetes.
This earlier study also found other links to diabetes, including:
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
You have little control over when you experience menopause. Yet, here are actions you can take to reduce your risk of diabetes:
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Sources include: McLeod Health, Women’s Health American Menopause Society, Climacteric, Women’s Health Initiative