Diabetes and Sex
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to complications. In some cases, sexual performance can be affected by diabetes.
Up to 50% of men and 25% of women may experience some kind of sexual problems or a loss of sexual desire as a result of diabetes.
I am a diabetic man, what kind of problems could diabetes cause to my sex life?
For men, diabetes can cause damage to the nervous system over a sustained period of time, also known as diabetic neuropathy. One aspect of this is the potential for diabetes to damage the erectile tissue leaving it impossible for a man to achieve or maintain an erection.
Almost 1 in 3 men with diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction can be the way in which men discover that they have diabetes.
However, through strict management if the disease through diet, exercise, pills and insulin injections, minor sexual problems usually recede and it is possible for the man to achieve and erection.
I am a diabetic woman, what kind of problems could diabetes cause to my sex life?
For some women with diabetes, vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) can be recurrent.
Vaginitis can be brought on by a number of different ways including bacterial inbalance of the vagina (bacterial vaginitis) yeast infections (thrush) or from chemical irritation, such as from soaps or fabric conditioners.
This can make sex painful, and is heralded by itching or burning sensations.
Cystitis can also be a recurrent problem for women with diabetes.
Furthermore, some evidence indicates that, in a similar way to men being unable to maintain an erection, the woman’s clitoris may fail to respond to stimulation.
Hypoglycemia and sex
However, testing before and after ‘getting it on’ may not help in setting the right mood(!). How you handle blood sugars around sex will come down to personal preference. If you have an understanding partner it certainly helps, but how you handle things yourself is also key.
If you’re in a new relationship, it may be tempting not to tell your partner about your diabetes and you may find yourself taking great pains to hide your diabetes. However, your diabetes will emerge sooner or later so it’s best to be open where possible.
If your partner is reassuring, you may have found yourself a great life partner.
So, what’s the worst that can happen? Sexual dysfunction can affect both men and women.
The US National Institutes of Health notes that sexual dysfunction is commonly linked with less well controlled diabetes over a period of time.
Men can be affected by:
- Reduced feeling in the penis
- Inability to achieve orgasm
- Difficult achieving or maintaining an erection
Women can be affected by:
- Reduced feeling in the clitoris
- Difficulty in producing vaginal lubrication
- Pain during sex
- Difficulty achieving orgasm
Whilst diabetes can cause sexual dysfunction, it is not only the reason that exists.
Other reasons, listed by the US National Institutes of Health, include psychological factors, which might include depression, grief or stress. If you’re having problems in the bedroom, the good news is that there are solutions.
You’ll likely have heard of medications like Viagra, which are effective, but are not the only treatments available. If the problem is psychological you may be referred to have sexual and relationship therapy.
As the reasons for sexual dysfunction can vary, your doctor will advise as to the best treatment for your situation.
A lot of people are shy to mention that they’re having problems in the bedroom but it is a relatively common problem and the benefits of sorting it out should happily outweigh any embarrassment in discussing it. Doctors are used to discussing sexual problems and can help to diagnose the problem.
If you are struggling to cope or need someone to speak to, the Sexual Advice Association is a charity that helps people through periods of sexual difficulty.
In summary, there’s a lot of help out there which can help you get the most out of your sex life. Good blood sugar control is a good start.
There are a range of treatments and therapies which can solve any problems you might be having. And there are organisations, like the Sexual Advice Association, which you can talk to you if you need support or guidance.
Could my blood sugar level affect my performance?
Having high or low blood glucose levels may lead to you feeling more tired or lethargic and therefore less up for sexual intercourse.
In men, high and low blood sugars can affect your ability to maintain erection and achieve ejaculation. In the case of hypoglycemia, this is usually easy to remedy, although it may spoil the mood.
I am worried about my diabetes’ effects on my sex life, what should I do?
The initial action one should take it to contact your doctor and discuss it with him. Often, these issues can only be addressed by seeking professional help.
Most doctors are used to discussing these types of issues, and will aim to assess whether your problems are physical or psychological in nature.
Many cases can be helped through psychological methods.
Many men are choosing to use drugs to help their arousal, and some successful cases have been reported of diabetes erectile dysfunction being aided by Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.
I’m not sure if the sexual problems are due to diabetes or not, what should I do?
The best thing to do is see your doctor. Tests can be conducted to discover whether the damage done to your nervous system by diabetes is affecting your sex life.
If not, the problem may be psychological, and there is no reason why your sex life cannot recover.