Diabetes and Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual problems can be avoided by taking proper care of your diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.

How Does Diabetes Affect Sex?

Diabetes sexual dysfunction is a condition that interferes with a diabetic person's sexual performance. Diabetes affects sex when a disease of the blood vessels (diabetic angiopathy) and nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) hinder sexual performance and enjoyment. This condition usually results from blood sugar levels that are not managed well.

Other factors that may contribute to sexual dysfunction include psychological problems such as depression, obesity, medications, smoking and other medical conditions.

Diabetes Sexual Problems

Sexual Dysfunction in Men 

Sexual dysfunction in men with diabetes includes erectile dysfunction (impotence) and ejaculation problems. This condition is due to nerve and artery damage in the genital area, which may cause a disruption to the blood flow that is necessary for an erection.

Men with poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to have sexual problems than those with good control. However, chances of complications and sexual issues can be reduced by taking proper care of your diabetes and cholesterol levels, and by quitting smoking.

Sexual Dysfunction in Women 

Women with diabetes may experience vaginal dryness. The lack of lubrication can lead to discomfort during sexual intercourse. Additional symptoms of sexual dysfunction may include: decreased vaginal sensitivity, difficulty climaxing and decreased sexual desire due to diabetes-related nerve damage.

Concerns for Both Men and Women 

  • Reduction of testosterone levels, which may result in a decrease in sexual interest (libido).
  • Abnormal nerve function (diabetic neuropathy), which may lead to discomfort and pain during intercourse.
Diabetics also need to look out for signs of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) after sex as intercourse is a form of exercise.

However, diabetes patients who experience sexual difficulties can lead an enjoyable and fulfilling sexual life by discussing it with their doctor. It is important to seek early treatment to prevent the condition from becoming too severe to be successfully treated.

Treatment of Diabetes Sexual Problems

For men: it is important to talk with your spouse or partner when selecting a treatment, to maintain a fulfilling relationship. Several treatments are available:
  • Oral medication — Viagra, Cialis and Levitra
  • Mechanical methods — vacuum pumps and constriction rings
  • Local therapies — suppositories and injections
  • Surgical methods — penile implant
For women: the use of water-based lubricants like K-Y jelly may help improve sexual pleasure.

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