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Let’s talk about SEX & DIABETES

Sex is an important part of relationships for adults of all ages. An unfulfilling sex life can lead to feelings of guilt and rejection, causing problems within a relationship. Levels of sexual desire vary widely between different people, and can change over time.

Sexual problems can be very difficult to discuss, particularly if the cause has not been identified. Therefore it’s important to know how to recognise the causes and symptoms of sexual dysfunction, so that it can be identified, discussed and treated or managed.

Many men with erectile dysfunction, for instance, later learn that they have diabetes. For people who already have diabetes, sexual problems can indicate nerve damage, blocked arteries, and even out-of-whack hormones. Sexual dysfunction in people with diabetes, researchers are certain of one thing: Chronic high blood glucose is behind many sexual problems people face, and the first line of action is to improve glucose control.

Sexual Desire

Low libido, or sexual desire, is a real problem, one that affects people with diabetes more than those without. Men and women experience low libido as a result of poorly controlled diabetes. If your sex drive is stalled, first look to your diabetes control and take steps to lower your blood glucose levels.

Sexual Desire

Sexual Arousal

Here’s the difference between desire and arousal: First, sexual desire must occur; the body then responds, signaling arousal. That is, if everything’s working properly. Both men and women with diabetes may feel desire but struggle with arousal problems, though the mechanisms behind this sexual dysfunction are better studied and understood in men. For both men and women, a good place to start looking for possible causes is your medicine cabinet. Some blood pressure–lowering medications, for instance, can contribute to erectile dysfunction. When meds aren’t behind a person’s hampered arousal, diabetes may be to blame. Poor diabetes control over time can damage the blood vessels and nerves—as it does in heart disease and neuropathy (nerve damage), other complications of the disease—that make arousal possible.



An orgasm is a sought-after sexual reward, but for people with diabetes it can feel like an unattainable goal. And, yes, we’re talking about women and men here. Both can struggle with the orgasm, and the first thing they and their doctors should check are the medications they take, such as antidepressants.

Having an orgasm is usually pretty easy for men, which is why it can be so frustrating if a man’s unable to finish. Like women, men suffering from neurovascular damage—and the lack of blood flow and/or sensation it creates—can have a hard time reaching an orgasm. Men can get around erectile dysfunction with a variety of treatments, ranging from medications to vacuum pumps, but these treatments will not fix neuropathy.



Sex is supposed to bring you and your partner pleasure, so pain is an indication that something isn’t right. Even if you’re shy, it’s important to discuss issues of painful sex with a doctor. “See a doctor who is familiar with taking care of sexual problems because we can rectify problems in [most] patients, especially people with diabetes,”.

Men with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing Peyronie’s disease, a condition in which scar tissue inside the penis causes a curved and painful erection. Before you worry, take heart: Penises all vary in shape, and a little curve isn’t a big deal. With Peyronie’s disease, the curve or bend is significant and can make having sex and getting or keeping an erection difficult and painful. A doctor can advise whether you should wait it out, take medication, or have surgery.

Taking Control of your Diabetes

Sexual Healing

Depending on the extent of your sexual dysfunction, you may be able to see improvement by getting your blood glucose in control. Even if the complications are too severe to reverse with better diabetes control alone, keeping your blood glucose levels in line can help to prevent further damage. Another tip: Quit smoking. It’s linked to sexual problems, and it’s all-around bad news for the rest of your body.

There are several approaches that both men and women benefit from, including seeing a doctor who specializes in sexual medicine and talking with a mental health professional. The latter is an important step because relationship problems, body issues, stress, and a host of other emotional baggage can affect all aspects of your sex life. You may be too self-conscious to get in the mood or get aroused, or maybe you’re too stressed to have an orgasm.

Finally, consider making lifestyle changes. Managing your diabetes well, including eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and reducing stress, will benefit your entire body, not just your nether regions. “I think it’s very likely that a good sex life leads to better health, And better health leads to good sex.”

Taking Control of your Diabetes
Taking Control of your Diabetes

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