For women living with diabetes, gender may affect many aspects of the disease, including how difficult it is to control, and what additional complications may develop.
Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body uses sugar for energy. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that acts as a key to allow cells to open and receive sugar from the blood.
When insulin is not available, excess sugar accumulates in the blood and causes damage to blood vessels, organs and other systems throughout the body. High levels of sugar in the blood can also increase the risk of other serious medical conditions including heart disease and stroke.
In 2012, approximately 29 million people in the United States had diabetes, which amounts to 9.3 percent of the total population. Of those, 15.5 million were men and 13.4 million were women, reported the CDC.
While both men and women require similar treatments to control diabetes, women in general may have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. This may be especially true during puberty, when young women’s hormone levels are fluctuating.
Changes in hormone levels can affect the body’s ability to effectively use insulin. This means a woman’s need for insulin or for medications to regulate blood sugar levels may fluctuate along with her monthly cycle.
Researchers at the Queensland Clinical Trials and Biostatistics Center at the University of Queensland in Herston, Australia also noted several discrepancies the risks associated with type 1 diabetes between men and women.
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin, and must receive it either through multiple daily injections or through an insulin pump that continually supplies insulin.
The researchers’ analysis of 26 studies that included over 200,000 people revealed that type 1 diabetes poses a greater risk of death for women than for men. Women with type 1 diabetes were found to have a 37 percent greater risk of dying from a stroke, compared to men with type 1 diabetes.
They also found that women with the disease had a 44 percent greater risk of dying from kidney disease than men with type 1 diabetes.Read more in Diabetes Health Center