Women and Diabetes

About 9.7 million women in the United States have diabetes.

Most women diagnosed have type 2 diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease caused by high levels of blood sugar (glucose) in your body. This can happen when your body does not make insulin or does not use insulin correctly. Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas (organ near your stomach).

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease meaning the body’s defense system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It can be diagnosed at any age, even childhood. With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or is not able to use its own insulin correctly. When this happens, blood glucose levels rise.
  • There is also gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes happens only during pregnancy and can cause health problems for the baby and the mother if not controlled. Although gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born, having diabetes during pregnancy raises your risk for type 2 diabetes later on.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means your blood sugar (glucose) level is higher than normal, but lower than the diabetes range. With prediabetes, you are at higher risk for getting type 2 diabetes.

Since type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, it is important to know your risk factors. Some risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Age 45 or older
  • Family history – mother, father, brother or sister with diabetes
  • Race/ethnicity – family background of African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
  • Having diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

Prevention is key

If you are at risk for diabetes, there are changes you can make to decrease your risk. These include:

  • Weight loss – Obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes. If you are overweight or obese, make small changes. Even a small amount of weight loss can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Eat healthier – Choose vegetables, whole grains, beans or fruit. Read food labels and choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
  • Get active – Try and get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week and limit time sitting.

Source: WomensHealth.gov

More Information

To learn more about UH Women’s Health Institute, or to speak to a navigator, please call 440-720-3262.

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