Sex is a fun, natural, and essential part of the human experience. Research shows diabetes can affect your sexual health, and ultimately, your intimate lifestyle. But despite the potential for damage, diabetes and sex remains minimally discussed.
Sexual issues may arise with diabetes, and it’s important to work toward feeling comfortable talking about them. Knowing what’s happening with your body can help you to treat, improve, and enjoy intimacy in physical relationships—even with diabetes.
Diabetes and Sex
Blood sugar that is left unmonitored may lead to nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. There are currently four types of neuropathy that may be experienced by diabetics.
Each type of neuropathy is linked to different nerves that serve specific functions in our body. The symptoms are dependent on the part of the body affected.
- Peripheral diabetic neuropathy
- Proximal neuropathy
- Autonomic neuropathy
- Focal neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of nerve damage. It affects the feet, legs, hands, and arms, and may also cause foot deformities, infections, ulcers, and amputations. Though diabetics are more likely to require amputation, certain medications can increase the risk.
Autonomic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can affect the sexual organs, which may cause sexual dysfunction. Autonomic neuropathy is linked to homeostasis and can lead to issues in various parts of the body, including the digestive tract, eyes, and more.
Sex is a human right, and women especially deserve to enjoy it. Learning about the effects of diabetes can help women improve their overall sex life and relationship.
Women who take insulin injections to treat diabetes are twice as likely to report sexual dissatisfaction as women without the condition.
The most common effect of diabetic neuropathy is vaginal dryness. Nerve damage caused by diabetes lead to issues with stimulation and excitement. Without lubrication, intercourse may be more difficult. Additional side effects experienced by women may be painful intercourse and diminished libido.
Once diabetes-related sexual issues are acknowledged, so is attention to blood sugar. Begin incorporating water-based lubricants or vaginal suppositories. And always use protection to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Remember: You are worthy of love and your body is absolutely beautiful, no matter what.
Sexual issues may be particularly sensitive for men, who have an overarching pressure to constantly perform. With uncontrolled diabetes, difficulties getting aroused or staying erect may develop.
Blood that flows to the penis may be interrupted by diabetic neuropathy. This may cause erectile dysfunction (ED), potentially at an earlier age than non-diabetic counterparts.
Erectile dysfunction is two to three times more common for men with diabetes.
There are various drugs to treat ED, but be sure to always discuss the risks and benefits with a doctor, as many drugs come with side effects. There may also be toys like vacuum pumps, so inquiring at the local sex toy shop is recommended, too.
Remember: Your identity, manhood, or masculinity is not defined solely by your sexual experience.
Talking about sex and sexual health is difficult for some. With diabetes and sex, however, finding the courage to share one’s struggle may seem like even more of a hurdle.
Keeping blood glucose levels stable, in addition to diet and exercise, can prevent sexual dysfunction. But if sexual health issues are ongoing, communication is key.
Speak with your doctor to discuss how diabetes could be affecting your sex life. Discuss treatment options and ways to prevent, manage, and mitigate diabetes and sexual health issues.