Effect of Diabetes on Your Sex Life
Dr. Geeta Aurangabadkar

Dr. Geeta Aurangabadkar

Oct 25Diabetes

Effect of Diabetes on Your Sex Life

This article is compiled by Sanjana Varma, a freelance writer at Proactive For Her.

Diabetes In India

Over the last quarter-century, the prevalence of diabetes has risen by a whopping 64% in India. According to the International Diabetes Federation, India's diabetes population grew to 74 million individuals in 2017 and is expected to grow to 134.3 million by 2045.

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which a person's blood glucose (blood sugar) level is high either due to insufficient insulin production, improper insulin function( insulin resistance), or both. The following are the key signs and symptoms: -

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite

What are the lesser-known side effects of having diabetes?

There could be a link if you have diabetes and any of these symptoms:

  • Reduced or non-existent libido/ desire to have sex
  • Arousal incapacity ( not getting sexually pleased or aroused easily)
  • Reduced sensation in your genitals
  • Intercourse-related discomforts like pain or reduced lubrication
  • Frequent bouts of urinary infections or vaginal infections

What is the connection between sex and diabetes?

It's crucial to understand that having high blood sugar levels for an extended period might lead to poor sexual performance which is referred to as sexual dysfunction. Neuropathy ( damage to the nerves) is the result of high blood sugar levels affecting the nerves around your sex organs. Additionally, as a result of uncontrolled or long-standing diabetes, there can be a potential impact on blood vessels supplying blood to your sexual organs. If this happens, the blood flow into these places will be reduced and you may lose sensation in your genitals. Losing sensation might make it more difficult to become physically and emotionally aroused. Erectile dysfunction, often known as erectile issues, is a condition that affects men. Moreover, diabetes makes you more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs), thrush, and vaginal dryness. Vaginal thrush and dryness impact lubrication and increase discomfort during penetrative vaginal sex as well. Although not everyone with diabetes may experience sexual problems, you should be aware of ways to lower your chance of developing them and how to manage them if you do.

How prevalent is it in women?

Sexual dysfunction in women due to diabetes is as common as it is in men. It is usually less discussed and not easily identified. Both men and women with diabetes experience issues with libido (desire for sex), arousal, and orgasm. It has been discovered that 77 percent of young women with type 2 diabetes experience loss of libido. Furthermore, decreased clitoral sensation (62.5%), vaginal soreness (41.6%), and vaginal dryness (37.5%), as well as impaired sexual function, have been reported.

What are the contributing factors?

The contributing factors of sexual dysfunction related to diabetes are:

  • Duration and severity of diabetes and related complications
  • Comorbidities like hypertension
  • Psychological or mental health issues like anxiety, depression
  • Usage of several medications

Can diabetes cause low libido?

There are a variety of factors that can influence your desire to have sex. This is known as libido or sex drive, and diabetes can affect your libido. This, however, isn't always due to your diabetes. Fatigue, depression, and low self-esteem can all affect your libido. The emotions you're experiencing have a significant impact as well.

What could be the underlying reasons?

  • Emotions: Men and women who use an insulin pump may experience feelings of self-consciousness. Furthermore, the time and effort spent controlling diabetes and related illnesses can hurt mental well-being. This could lead to a lack of interest in sex or the usage of a drug that has a detrimental impact on sexual function.
  • Hormonal impact: Changes in testosterone or estrogen (due to diabetes, menopause, or other illnesses) can affect libido, lubrication, and the capacity to become sexually aroused.
  • Reduced blood flow: Blood flow is reduced as a result of diabetes, which may decrease blood flow to the penis or vaginal area. Blood must flow to the penis for them to maintain an erection and women need the blood flow to prevent vaginal dryness.
  • Pharmaceutical side effects: Medications for high blood pressure can affect your ability to get or keep an erection. Furthermore, several antidepressants and anxiety medications have a reputation for reducing arousal or sexual interest.
  • Damage to the nerves: High glucose levels might cause nerve damage. The clitoris and the tip of the penis are densely packed with nerves. If those nerves are injured, diminished sexual feeling or even painful intercourse may follow.

Will my sex life never recover?

Although the majority of people hesitate to discuss this with their doctor, it’s important to bring up your concerns if your provider doesn't actively ask about your sex life.

To figure out what's causing your sexual dysfunction, your doctor will ask you several questions as a part of the assessment. A physical examination may also be performed by your provider. This aids your doctor in determining the root of the problem and how to address it. Both men and women can benefit from treatment and good future quality of relationship. You may not see immediate results but there is a good chance and hope that you will be able to restore a satisfying sexual life.

What are the available treatment options?

There are various options available to you, including consulting a sexual health expert and including a mental health expert. Since relationship concerns, bodily issues, stress, and a slew of other emotional baggage may affect all parts of your sex life, the latter is crucial. Anxiety may impact the equation too. You can be too self-conscious or anxious to get in the mood or aroused, or you might be too stressed to have an orgasm. A counselor can also assist you and your spouse in resolving any issues that have arisen as a result of your sexual dysfunction. It causes such emotional stress in a relationship that it can spread across the whole partnership, not just in the bedroom. So talk it out and find a way to work around it.

Your doctor may suggest changes in your blood pressure medications that might be affecting you. Staying away from or reducing alcohol consumption and smoking can help you work on this.

Finally, it's more than just your sexual performance think about changing your way of life. The entire body, not just your nether regions, will benefit from properly managing your diabetes, which includes consuming good meals, exercising regularly, and minimizing stress. Healthy sex life is a result of a healthy body and mind.

Disclaimer - This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.

Proactive For Her is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalized, and confidential healthcare solutions. We offer products and services for out-patient health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit https://www.proactiveforher.com/