Diabetes affects 8.9 percent or 9.1 million of all women in the United States, and due to the increasing lifespan of women and population growth, the number of women at risk is only climbing. Compounding the problem are the complications that diabetes causes. Working with your doctor to tailor a program of treatment is essential to ward off these complications and live a long and active life. 


Diabetes can affect you from head to toe.  It has been found that women are at a greater risk for certain complications. They are listed below: 

  • The American Diabetes Association reports the difference in the death rate from all causes between diabetic and non-diabetic women has more than doubled since 1971 
  • The risk of cardiovascular disease is more serious among women than men 
  • The risk of diabetic ketoacidosis or diabetic coma is 50 percent higher in women 
  • The risk for peripheral vascular disease (the reduction of oxygen and blood to the legs and feet) is higher in women 
  • Women are subject to complications during pregnancy due to diabetes 

Pregnancy and Diabetes

Pregnancy demands a lot from a woman's body including demanding more insulin in the body than normal because of the increased production of hormones. This can lead to insulin resistance and the development of gestational diabetes. For women with diabetes, excellent blood glucose control before conception and then throughout pregnancy is vital to the health of the baby and the mother. Here are some of the issues that can arise during pregnancy if tight controls are not maintained on blood sugar levels:

  • The rate of major congenital malformations in babies born to women with preexisting diabetes varies from 0 to 5 percent among women who receive preconception care to 10% among women who do not receive preconception care.
  • Between 3 to 5 percent of pregnancies among women with diabetes result in death of the newborn within 28 days. This compares to a rate of 1.5% for women who do not have diabetes.
  • L arge birth weight, occurs 2 to 3 times more often in diabetic pregnancies as in the general population. Because of this women with diabetes are 3 to 4 times more likely to have a cesarean section.
  • Women with diabetes are up to 5 times as likely to develop toxemia (a disorder of unknown cause usually marked by hypertension, protein in the urine, edema, headache, and visual disturbances)
  • Women with diabetes are up to 5 times as likely to develop hydramnios (excessive amounts of amniotic fluid) as women without diabetes.
  • Approximately 2 to 5 percent of all non-diabetic pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy.
  • Approximately 40 percent of women with gestational diabetes who are obese before pregnancy develop type 2 diabetes within 4 years. The chance of developing diabetes during this same period is lower if the women are less overweight.

Team Up To Treat 
Tailoring a treatment program to your needs is crucial, especially since diabetes has implications particular to reproductive and sexual health in women. If you've been diagnosed, assemble your healthcare team involving your primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, and your OBGYN. Knowledge is power with regard to treating diabetes so get educated. Call 1-(800) DIABETES to get the name and number of a diabetes educator in your area. If you are overweight, it is important to adopt a moderate workout regimen that will help you reduce your body weight. Diet is an integral part of diabetes treatment since blood sugar levels can be greatly affected by the type and quantity of food you are consuming. Work with a dietician on a food plan that will be enjoyable and rewarding. You'll be amazed how a little creativity will make your meals quite tasty.