Women at Higher Risk of Diabetes Related Complications, Says UT Extension

Picture of woman running
Preventing and treating diabetes is the focus of November's Diabetes Awareness Month. UT Extension weighs in on the specific risks that women face. Photo courtesy of Pixabay​.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, so we talked with Soghra Jarvandi, University of Tennessee Extension community health expert, about the risks of diabetes, especially for women.

Does gender make a difference in regards to a person’s lifestyle with diabetes?

Actually, yes it does. Diabetes is a much more challenging disease for women to manage than for men. Gender does not seem to effect prevalence or risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but once a person is diagnosed, women have a more difficult road ahead of them.

So, how does diabetes impact women differently than men?

The most common complication of diabetes is heart disease, and women have a higher risk of developing it, along with higher risks than men for both depression and blindness.  

Are there other ways that diabetes puts women specifically at risk?

Yes, and there are many. Uncontrolled diabetes before or during pregnancy increases the risk of complications for mother and baby, and diabetes increases the general risk of infections among women like urinary and vaginal infections. Menopause also makes controlling diabetes more challenging because of hormonal changes in the bodies of women. Finally, women battling breast cancer may find that their treatment and recovery is negatively affected by diabetes.

So what can we do? What should women with diabetes or those working to prevent diabetes do?

First, talk to your doctor. Find out if you are at risk of developing diabetes. Invest in prevention methods like eating healthy, being active and losing weight. If you have already been diagnosed, talk with your doctor about the best ways to manage diabetes and other health problems that may be present. Be active in the management of your health by choosing a healthy diet, checking blood sugar often, taking medications as prescribed, exercising regularly and caring for your emotional and mental wellbeing.

Is there anything else we should know about complications from diabetes?

Ultimately, you are in control of your health and future. No matter what, it’s never too late to start making changes to become healthier. UT Extension is here to help Tennesseans live the healthiest lives possible.

For additional help and programs specifically about healthy choices, contact the family and consumer sciences agent at your local county Extension office. You can also visit the UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences website at fcs.tennessee.edu

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrates 50 years of excellence in providing Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery and service. ag.tennessee.edu​.



Soghra Jarvandi, assistant professor, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, 865-974-7328, sjarvand@utk.edu