Which signs and symptoms are unique to women with diabetes?
Many Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes symptoms in women are the same as those in men; however, there are some symptoms and complications of diabetes unique to women.
Vaginal itching and pain as well as vaginal and oral yeast infections: An overgrowth of Candida albicans fungus can cause vaginal yeast infections and oral yeast infections (oral thrush).
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections include:
- Vaginal itching and pain
- Vaginal discharge
- Painful sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of oral thrush include:
- White patches in the mouth
- Redness and soreness
- Trouble eating or swallowing
- Swollen red gums or inner cheeks.
- Decrease in sex drive: Women with diabetes may experience lower sex drive (libido), blood flow problems to the genital area, which can decrease sexual response and orgasm, and nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) that can result in vaginal dryness and decreased sensation.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): This is a common cause of female infertility and insulin resistance. It can cause signs and symptoms like irregular periods, acne, thinning scalp hair, and excess hair growth on the face and body. High insulin levels also increase the risk of developing diabetes, and about half of women with PCOS develop diabetes.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs): A UTI occurs when bacteria enter anywhere in the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureters, kidneys, and bladder. They are much more common in women than in men in general, and they occur more often in people with diabetes because the sugar in the urine presents a breeding ground for bacterial growth.
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease (the most common diabetes complication) by about four times in women but only about two times in men, and women have worse outcomes after a heart attack. Women are also at higher risk of other diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression.
Which signs and symptoms are the same?
There are diabetes symptoms that both women and men have in common:
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss or gain
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing wounds
- Skin infections
- Darkening of skin in areas of body creases (acanthosis nigricans)
- Breath odor that is fruity, sweet, or acetone
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet