What impact can diabetes have on women’s sexual health?

Women with diabetes may experience a lack of interest in sex (libido), pain or discomfort during intercourse, and decreased production of vaginal lubrication.

Diabetes may have little impact on sexual health in the beginning but over time, when you add the effects of aging, chronicity and co-morbidities, Diabetes can have an impact on sexual function.  The younger you are at onset, the more likely you are to experience difficulties. 

Worry and stress.  Mentally, you are concerned about the complications that even well controlled diabetics develop.  Economically, it may be difficult to purchase your medical and testing supplies, the diet you should be eating and all the health provider visits you need.  Episodes of high or low sugar can be worrisome as well.  For these reasons and more, your stress levels can be elevated more often or for longer periods of time.  Stress is not conducive to robust sexual health.

Lifestyle.  To control your diabetes, you must live a somewhat structured life; proper meals at regular times, no eating or drinking binges, excellent foot and skin care due to slower healing, etc.  For the diabetic, romantic weekends aren't impossible but they won't be as wild and crazy as your partner may imagine. 

Co-morbidities.  There are medical standards of care related to diabetes because much more is known about its long term impact.  As a diabetic, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression, for example.  Your health care provider will monitor you very carefully for the first signs of these co-morbidities and treat them quickly.  Some of these medications and/or untreated conditions can impact your sexual health and should be discussed with your provider.

Aging.  Libido, vaginal secretions, erectile strength or frequency can diminish with age, not inevitably but commonly.  Diabetes can also affect these same factors in sexual function.  The impacts could be more definite or profound.

Discuss the impacts of diabetes on your sexual health with your health care provider as freely as you would discuss your blood sugar results.  They can either help you themselves or refer you to some who can.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.