Up to 1 in 10 women in the UK experience pain during sex, according to a new study, and diabetes is likely to be one of the factors.
Pain during sex is referred to as dyspareunia and it is relatively common in women with diabetes, particularly if diabetes is not so well controlled.
A lack of diabetes control in the long-term is likely to lead to greater problems with painful sex and other sexual issues. However, even a shorter period of high blood glucose levels could lead to temporary problems that may result in more painful sex than normal.
The study reviewed 6,669 women between the ages of 16 and 74 who were sexually active. Overall, around 1 in 13 of the women experienced pain during sex and this figure went up to just over one in ten within women aged 55 to 64 years old.
Within this age group, women were more than twice as likely, than the next nearest age bracket, to experience ‘morbid pain’, which was defined as having pain during sex for six months or more with related distress and frequent symptoms.
The women that reported painful sex, were also much more likely to report other problems regarding sex including:

Lack of interest in sex – 62%
Vaginal dryness – 45%
Difficulty reaching climax – 40%
Lacking enjoyment in sex – 40%

Vaginal dryness and loss of libido can be common problems when diabetes is not well controlled. Diabetic neuropathy may also be a factor that leads to difficulty reaching climax.
Vaginal dryness can be a causal factor of pain during sex. Yeast infections and urinary tract infections are other factors that can lead to painful sex and are also likely to occur people with in uncontrolled diabetes.
Whilst I should note that diabetes was not investigated within the study, it is notable as diabetes affects around 1 in 16 adults and that the prevalence of diabetes rises with age.
It may also be significant that the latest National Diabetes Audit states that: “People aged under 65 with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are much less likely to achieve the NICE treatment targets”.
These two points may together represent a contributing factor in why the 55-64 age group reported such a high incidence of pain during sex.

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