A recent study by Chicago Medical Center researchers has revealed that for adults, diabetes can impair sexual desire, cause erectile dysfunctions, and lead to other sexual health problems. Nearly 2,000 subjects aged 57 to 85 were part of the study, which found that 70% of male participants and 62% of female participants still engaged in sexual activities two or three times each month.
The men and women in the study have sex as frequently as their non-diabetic peers. However, they are more likely to experience complications. The study concluded that:
- Men with diabetes are more likely to lack sexual interest
- Men with diabetes are more likely to suffer from ED
- Women with diabetes are more likely to have problems reaching orgasm
- Men with diabetes are more likely climax too quickly or not at all
- Only 19% of women with diabetes talk to their doctors about sexual problems
- Only 47% of men with diabetes talk to their doctors about sexual problems
- More men than women are sexually active
Women suffer more sexual side effects as a result of being diabetic than men do. The list of side effects includes blood sugar fluctuation around the time of their period, vaginal dryness, and higher risk of infections. Overall these things and associated feelings of depression can lead to a decreased appetite for sex.
With that in mind, women should make a point of eating regularly to stabilize their blood sugar. They should avoid things like caffeine and alcohol that are known to have a significant impact on mood. Also, women who experience vaginal dryness should try a water-based personal lubricant. However, continued dryness can be a sign that estrogen levels are low and doctors may prescribe a cream or suggest hormone replacement therapy for some of their patients.
Men who have diabetes can have trouble performing sexually, too. The male sexual response involves a number of body systems that can all be negatively impacted by a chronic disease like diabetes. With that in mind, it is important to note whether problems with erectile dysfunction are random or steadily progressive over time. The former indicates a psychological component; the latter a physical cause.
Besides being fun, having sex is a vigorous activity that has the potential to burn a lot of calories. That means sex is a lot like exercise in that it can put diabetics at risk for hypoglycemia. That’s not exactly a turn-on. To avoid hypoglycemia and keep your blood sugar stable, take your readings before and after you have sex. You might find it helpful to have a sugary drink or a snack before the fun begins. Your doctor may also suggest tweaking your insulin when the mood turns amorous. Or if you find that all of these preparations kind of kill the spontaneity of the moment, you can try a more holistic, natural approach that goes to the cause of the disease, rather than merely managing the symptoms.
You can’t sweep sexual problems under the rug. Problems like decreased sexual desire can have a serious impact on your partner as well. What you experience as a psychological or physical consequence of your diabetes may feel a lot like rejection or loss of affection and desire for your partner. Don’t leave them in the dark about your sexual side effects, and be proactive in resolving the problems.