The problems affecting a woman’s sex life are not negligible and they can often reveal other diabetes complications.
Whether or not a person suffers from a chronic disease, sex is part of a person’s well-being and overall health. It is well known that diabetes in men can cause erectile dysfunction, but how does the disease affect women?
Some diabetes complications can affect a woman’s sexuality:
- circulatory or vascular complications compromise vaginal lubrication
- more frequent vaginal and urinary infections can make sexual relations painful
- taking insulin can cause weight gain, which can have an impact on body image and sexual satisfaction
Because of its impact on a psychological and relationship level, diabetes can considerably influence a woman’s sex life and intimacy. Hence, her emotional reaction to diabetes can impair her sexual desire and arousal, and make sex problematic:
- fear and frustration after a diabetes diagnosis
- the stress of the disease and its treatment
- guilt because treatment might not be fully followed
- fear of rejection or not being able to please her partner (seduction and sexual relations)
- self-deprecating thoughts that can lead to depression
Importance of talking about it
Talking to a doctor or other health professional can help pinpoint the source of the problem – whether physical or emotional – and determine the appropriate treatment options.
Talking to your partner about your fears and emotions can also break the feeling of isolation, and heighten the couple’s intimacy as you work together to find a solution.
Diabetes shouldn’t relegate sex to the back burner. Everyone has the right to sexual health and pleasure. Sexual complications are not inevitable.
Women with diabetes can have as normal a sex life as non-diabetic women, provided they avoid risk factors and take preventative measures:
- limit alcohol consumption
- stop smoking
- eat properly
- manage stress
- lose excess weight
- under a doctor’s supervision, adjust her medications to treat the diabetes and associated pathologies: high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.
- keep her blood glucose (sugar) levels under control
The menstrual cycle’s effect on blood glucose (sugar) levels
Reproductive hormones in women of childbearing age have an impact on blood sugar. Since hormone levels fluctuate during the course of the menstrual cycle, blood glucose (sugar) levels are affected and also fluctuate.
The impact is often negligible, but for some women, dietary changes and reduced physical activity that sometimes occur when they are premenstrual or menstruating can affect blood glucose (sugar) levels.
Research and text: Diabetes Québec Team of Health Care Professionals
From: Morin, F. É., Sexologist, (2012). Diabète and Sexualité féminine : Que se cache-t-il derrière le rideau? Diabetes Québec, 24 pages. (French only.) Available for purchase.