Posted on July 08, 2015

A women's health expert at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) advises women who have medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and thyroid disorders to consult their doctor before fasting, and to take necessary precautions if they are fasting during Ramadan, particularly those who are required to be on constant medication. The Qur'an allows women who are sick, pregnant or breastfeeding the option not to fast if they are afraid of endangering their or their child's health. On the other hand, women who are menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding are not allowed to fast. In all cases, the fast may be made up at a later date.

"Prolonged fasting causes certain metabolic and hormonal changes in the body, so it is important for women with these conditions to consult their doctor to ensure they are not risking their health by fasting, and to observe the needed precautions as advised by their doctor. For instance, women who are taking medications may need to have their medication dosage and schedule adjusted, or their medication replaced, to enable them to fast safely," said Dr. Faten Al-Taher, Senior Consultant of Obstetrics and Gynecology at HMC's Women's Hospital.

"Depending on their medical condition, patients may also need to have their diet adjusted to keep their metabolism functioning as it should, and avoid problems such as dizziness, hypertension, and weight gain, which can lead to other health complications. Women with severe symptoms are advised against fasting until their symptoms improve, and should seek their doctor's advice on when they can safely fast," said Dr. Al-Taher. Those who experience a health emergency at any time should seek urgent professional medical attention or dial 999 for HMC's Ambulance Service.

Dr. Al-Taher stressed the importance of eating a balanced, fiber-rich diet with larger portions of vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates e.g. beans, lentils, whole grain bread, and oats; avoiding or at least consuming only a small portion of foods high in salt, fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, white rice, sweets and pastries). It is also important to stay hydrated, especially in the hot and humid weather, by drinking plenty of fluids between Iftar and Suhoor, and reducing intake of sugary and caffeinated drinks.

"Ramadan is an opportunity for women, particularly those with chronic illnesses like diabetes, to develop healthier habits and take positive steps towards practicing lifelong wellness for themselves and their families. If they follow their prescribed treatment regimen, observe proper eating habits and take adequate physical exercise during Ramadan, they and their families will be able to avoid ill health and safely enjoy the Eid celebrations together," said Dr. Al-Taher.