Let’s Talk About Sex… and Diabetes
Get the 101 on sex and diabetes
Will my diabetes affect my sex life? Are there physical problems to be concerned about, and what can I do if that happens? Are men and women affected differently? These are common questions for many people living with diabetes. Sex is an important part of a relationship and understanding how your diabetes can affect it is important.
The most important thing to know is that many people with diabetes have healthy sex lives with no major issues. However, for some, there may be both physical and emotional issues that can interfere with the enjoyment of sex. Here are a few facts about diabetes and sex to keep in mind:
- In men, low or high blood sugar can affect erectile function. Chronic hyperglycemia can contribute to neuropathy (nerve damage) and reduced blood circulation, which can lead to erectile dysfunction.
- In women, hyperglycemia can contribute to vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections, which can interfere with sex. Diabetic neuropathy can also affect a woman’s sexual response.
- People with diabetes can experience fatigue, pain or a loss of interest in sex because of fluctuating blood glucose levels and/or the stress of managing diabetes.
What you can do
If your sex life doesn’t feel satisfying, the first step is to get help. You may feel shy or embarrassed bringing this up with your healthcare provider, but it’s a very common issue that your healthcare provider can address.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is common for men living with diabetes. But ED can be treated. If you are experiencing ED, talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options.1 He or she can see if there may be a physical problem at the root of it, or refer you to a therapist if this is something you’re interested in.
Physical issues, such as yeast infections, can be managed with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Emotional issues, such as a loss of interest in sex, can be more complex. A good place to start is by talking to your healthcare provider. He or she can see if there may be a physical problem at the root of it, or refer you to a therapist if this is something you’re interested in.
For men and women, fluctuating blood glucose levels can affect sexual function. Work with your healthcare provider on ways to help improve your blood glucose control.
Talking to your partner
It’s also important to keep an open dialogue with your partner so you can work on resolving issues together. Be frank about how you’re feeling. Having the support of your partner can help ease your anxiety, which often contributes to sexual issues. It may take some time, so be patient and open-minded about trying new things.
1 Bebb R, Millar A, Brock G. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada: Sexual Dysfunction and Hypogonadism in Men With Diabetes. Can J Diabetes 2018;42(Suppl 1):S228-S233.
Bokma, A. (2019, April 26). Sex & diabetes-what you need to know. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/stories/sex---diabetes—what-you-need-to-know