Women and Diabetes: Frequently Asked Questions

Why are women with diabetes pre-disposed to developing recurrent yeast infections?

The glucose (sugar) in your body is the perfect trigger to encourage and grow yeast within your body.

What are the complications of using birth control pills while having diabetes?

Birth control pills may raise your BG levels. Using them for longer than a year or 2 may also increase your risk of complications. For instance, if you develop high blood pressure while on the pill, you increase the chance that eye or kidney disease will worsen.

Will menopause affect my diabetes?

Yes. The changes in hormonal levels and balance, may lead to BG levels that are out of control. Women with diabetes are also at risk of developing premature menopause and consequent increased risks of cardiovascular disease.

Are there any diabetes medications that have a higher incidence of side effects amongst women who use them?

Yes, the oral medications classified as thiazolidinediones (TZDs) may cause women who are not ovulating and haven't gone through menopause to begin ovulating again, enabling them to conceive. Also, oral contraceptives may be less effective when taking this medication.

What are the BG levels for women that are pregnant?

  • Fasting 60-90 mg/dL (whole blood) 69-104 mg/dL (plasma),
  • Before meals 60-105 mg/dL (whole blood) 69-121 mg/dL (plasma),
  • 1 hour after meals 100-120 mg/dL (whole blood) 115-138 mg/dL (plasma),
  • 2 a.m. - 6 a.m. 60-120 mg/dL (whole blood) 69-138 mg/dL (plasma).

Is their a time frame that women with diabetes should follow for check-ups such as gynecological exams?

Check-ups should be performed on a regular, consistent basis to ensure that the diabetes is not negatively affecting the reproductive organs. Your health care provider will determine how often you should visit with him/her depending on your overall health.

Can women with diabetes breastfeed their babies?

Unless your health care team advises you otherwise, yes. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for babies and breastfeeding is recommended for all mothers with either preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes.

I had diabetes before I was pregnant. Now that I am pregnant, how often should I monitor my BG levels?

Most health care professionals recommend that a woman with pre-existing diabetes (both type 1 & type 2) who becomes pregnant monitor her BG levels up to 8 times daily. In terms of your day-to-day routine, you should probably monitor: before each meal, 1 or 2 hours after each meal, at bedtime, occasionally at 2-3 a.m.

I had gestational diabetes. How soon after having the baby should I get my blood glucose rechecked?

About 6-8 weeks after delivery. Like 90% of the women with gestational diabetes, your BG levels will probably return to normal right after your baby is born. However, you still run the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, prior studies have shown women who have had gestational diabetes are at risk (of up to 60%) for developing diabetes in the next 10 to 20 years.

What are the risks of hormone replacement therapy?

The risks are increased incidence of breast cancer and uterine cancer while using estrogen. However, when estrogen and progesterone are administered together and in the correct doses, the risk of cancer of the uterus or endometrium is reduced.

What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy?

The benefits are decreased risk of osteoporosis, vaginitis and hot flashes.

Is it okay for women to drink alcohol, if so, how much?

The ADA's recommendations are 1 drink per day. One drink is defined as: 12 ounces of beer, 1 glass of wine, 1 jigger of alcohol and 12 ounces of a wine cooler.

What should my daily intake of cholesterol be and what are the ADA's guidelines?

Cholesterol should be less than 200. LDL (bad cholesterol) below 100 mg/dL, HDL (good cholesterol) above 55 mg/dL and triglycerides below 150 mg/dL.

What are some of the symptoms of women's sexual health issues related to diabetes?

Lack of interest in sex (libido), pain or discomfort during intercourse, and decreased production of vaginal lubrication to name a few.

Will my children inherit diabetes from me?

It all depends on risk factors that include: no diabetes in the family—11% chance of type 2 diabetes by age 70 and 1% chance of type 1 diabetes by age 50. One parent with type 1 diabetes—6% chance of type 1 diabetes (father with type 1 diabetes), 4% chance of type 1 diabetes (mother with diabetes who was younger that 25 when the child was born) and 1% chance of type 1 diabetes (mother with diabetes who was older than 25 when the child was born).

*Risk doubles if the parent was diagnosed by age 11*

One parent with type 2 diabetes (diagnosed before the age of 50)—14% chance of type 2 diabetes. Both parents with type 2 diabetes (overall risk)—45% chance of type 2 diabetes.

What should my A1C (Hemoglobin A1C) be while I am pregnant?

An A1C (Hemoglobin A1C) is a blood test that can predict average blood glucose levels for about 8-12 weeks. People without diabetes generally have an A1C of less than 6%, though this usually drops to less than 5% during pregnancy. Women with diabetes should strive for "near normal" A1Cs prior to, as well as during, pregnancy.

  • Last Reviewed: August 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: March 28, 2014

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast