Signs of Diabetes In Women – How This Conditions Affects Them Differently?

Signs of Diabetes In Women – How This Conditions Affects Them Differently?

Believe it or not, diabetes is one of the deadly diseases which kill millions of people every year around the world. Diabetes can affect a woman just as likely it can develop in man as the signs and symptoms are mostly similar in both the genders. But when it comes to women, the concerns are more and awareness is less. According to International Diabetes Federation, there are currently 199 million women living with diabetes around the world and this figure is likely to escalate to 313 million by the year 2040.

Why diabetes is a cause of concern for women?

The international body (IDF) warns that gender roles and behavior towards health-seeking women can magnify the impact of diabetes in women. This is because globally, diabetes is the ninth major cause of death in women, which accounts for 2.1 million deaths every year. And what makes things worse is that 1 in 5 women suffering from diabetes is of reproductive age, which translates to 60 million women.

These unfortunates lot of women have difficulty in getting pregnant. In India, the prevalence is 17.7 percent in urban areas while 10 percent women are affected in the rural regions. Another six-city survey conducted in India showed that Indian women neglect diabetes. According to the findings:

  • Women who were not diagnosed for diabetes, have irregular eating habits and also lack physical exercise.
  • 76 percent of them were unaware of the birth defects that could occur during pregnancy due to diabetes.
  • 53.8 percent of them were unaware of the factors necessary for controlling diabetes.
  • 45 percent of them said they skipped meals once in a week or more.

So there are concerns that need to be addressed and knowing about potential signs and symptoms is one major step. It is important to discuss early signs and symptoms which can not only help diagnose diabetes timely but also help avoid potential complications arising from it.

Signs of Diabetes in women

Women with diabetes will experience similar symptoms as that of man. However, some of them are unique to only women. Understanding each will help the doctor diagnose the condition early and start treatment accordingly.

Signs Unique in Women

  1. Vaginal and oral yeast infection and pain – Vaginal and oral yeast infections occur due to overgrowth of yeast caused by Candida fungus. The rise in the fungus level is caused due to high blood glucose. When women develop an infection in the vaginal area, she would feel soreness, itchiness and vaginal discharge. The women can also experience pain during sex. In an oral yeast infection, there will be a feeling of cottage-cheese coating on the tongue as well as inside of the mouth.
  2. Urinary Tract Infections - Women with diabetes have higher chances of developing urinary tract infections (UTI). The condition develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and starts multiplying in the bladder. UTIs are common in diabetes because of poor blood circulation and also the inability of white blood cells to travel through the bloodstream and eradicate infections.

Urinary Tract Infection In Women – Why it’s More Common In Pregnancy?

  1. Sexual Dysfunction - Sexual dysfunction is another sign of diabetes in women which occurs due to diabetic neuropathy. This means there is high blood glucose which is causing the nerve damage. As a result, it can trigger loss of feeling or sensation in various parts of the body including hands, feet and vaginal area, hence affecting woman’s sex drive.
  2. Polycystic ovary syndrome - Also spelled as PCOS, the condition occurs when the adrenal gland starts producing higher levels of male hormones. Polycystic ovary syndrome can cause irregular periods, depression, weight gain, and acne. It is also one of the major reasons for female infertility and insulin resistance. This can elevate the blood sugar levels and put you at the risk of developing diabetes

What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? Common Symptoms of PCOS And How It Affects Pregnancy?

Symptoms common in both women and men

The first four symptoms are similar to that of gestational diabetes.

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased amount of thirst and hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss and weight gain
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Skin infections
  • Nausea
  • Sweet smelling breath that has fruity or acetone odor
  • Darkening of skin on the areas of body creases
  • Tingling or numbing sensation in hands or feet

Why diabetes in women is different from men?

This makes us wonder why and how diabetes is different in women than men? According to a study by Annals of Internal Medicine, in the time span of 1971-2000, death rate of men with diabetes dropped. This was a reflection of major advances in the field of diabetes treatment.

But on the other hand, death rates for women didn’t show any improvement. In addition to this, the death rates in women who had diabetes and those who never had diabetes were more than double. This study suggested several possible reasons for this difference.

  • The complications resulting from diabetes in women are more difficult to diagnose and treat
  • Hormones and inflammation play a different role in women
  • Women often get moderate or less aggressive treatment when it comes to treating cardiovascular risk factors
  • Women suffer from different kinds of heart diseases than men

Some other experts suggest that increasingly stressful lifestyle and periodic hormonal changes are some of the major reasons for the increased occurrence of diabetes in women. Though there is no cure for diabetes, lifestyle changes, a variety of medications can effectively manage the symptoms. If you are suffering from one of these signs, early diagnosis can make your life better. Consult your diabetologist or family physician today and get yourself screened.


1. Mortality Trends in Men and Women with Diabetes, 1971 to 2000(2007, August 07). Annals read more
2. A-Z Health Topics: Diabetes(2017,November 28). womenshealth read more
3. Diabetes Symptoms in Women(n.d.).  read more
4. Eating Disorders(2014, July 02). American Diabetes Association read more
5. Gestational Diabetes(2017 ,May). NIDDK 
read more