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Manage Diabetes for Better Sexual Health

Dec 06, 2016

Manage Diabetes for Better Sexual Health

Do you or your partner have diabetes? If you do, you’re in good company. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 29.1 million people in the United States had diabetes in 2012 – about 9.3% of the population. In Canada, diabetes affected 3.4 million people in 2015 – also 9.3% of the population.

Many people don’t realize that diabetes can have a serious effect on sexual health. How serious? Here’s an example. Research suggests that men with diabetes are four times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED) than non-diabetic men. ED also tends to occur ten to fifteen years earlier in diabetic men, and cases may be more severe.

There’s a lot to learn about diabetes and sexual health and we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find a list of SexHealthMatters articles that can answer many of your questions.

What is Diabetes?

First, let’s get an overview of diabetes.

Generally speaking, diabetes affects the body’s use of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin helps the body process glucose (a type of sugar) from the foods we eat so that the body can use it for energy. Glucose may also be converted to fat.

Diabetes is classified in two ways:

·         Type 1. People who have type 1 diabetes (previously known as juvenile diabetes) are unable to produce insulin on their own. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 5% of people with diabetes have this kind. It is often diagnosed during childhood.

·         Type 2. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form. With type 2, the body can produce insulin, but it doesn’t use it as well as it should. To compensate, the pancreas makes more insulin, but eventually the demand exceeds the supply. When that happens, the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range.

Now, let’s look at some ways diabetes affects sexual health.

Sexual Issues for Diabetic Men - General

Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction This blog post discusses two ways diabetes leads to ED – neuropathy and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Diabetes – Erectile Dysfunction Common questions about diabetes and ED are answered here.

Diabetes Screening Important for Men with ED Experts suggest that men – especially middle-aged men - be screened for diabetes if they have ED.

Sexual Issues for Men with Type 1 Diabetes

Premature Ejaculation and Type 1 Diabetes Research suggests that type 1 diabetes is not a risk factor for premature ejaculation.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and CVD in Joslin Medalists with Type 1 Diabetes In this study, scientists found that ED could be a sign of heart disease in men with type 1 diabetes.

Sexual Issues for Diabetic Women

Diabetes and Female Sexual Satisfaction This blog post provides details on how diabetes affects women’s sexual health.

Female Sexual Dysfunction and Diabetes Sexual issues are more common in diabetic women than non-diabetic women, this study reports.

Sexual Issues Related to Gestational Diabetes

Sexual Function in Pregnant Women with Gestational Diabetes This type of diabetes, found in pregnant women who have not had diabetes before, can also present sexual challenges.

Other Information

Neuropathy and Diabetes One of the ways diabetes causes sexual problems is through neuropathy – nerve damage. When this happens, the genitals don’t “get the message” that they should start getting ready for sex, leading to ED in men and poor vaginal lubrication in women.

Mediterranean Diet Might Improve Sexual Function in Men and Women with Type 2 Diabetes Researchers discovered that a Mediterranean diet, which includes plant-based foods, fish, and olive oil, could have sexual health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes.

Moving Forward

If you or your partner are diabetic, what steps can you take to improve your sexual health? Here are some important points to keep in mind:

·         Talk to your doctor. Be sure to see your doctor regularly and ask questions. If you’re having sexual issues, don’t hesitate to speak up.

·         Stick to your treatment plan. Check your blood sugar regularly and take all of your medications and insulin exactly as prescribed.

·         Follow a healthy diet. Make sure your diet includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Your doctor can give you more specifics about which foods are best for you. Keep an eye on portion size and be sure to eat at regular times. Diabetic cookbooks are full of appealing recipes. Sit down with your family and decide which ones to try.

·         Exercise. Come up with a fitness plan that you’ll enjoy, whether it’s running in the park, swimming at the community pool, or joining a spin class at the gym. You might consider asking your partner, family, or friends to join you.

These suggestions, such as healthy eating and exercising, benefit all of us, not just people with diabetes. And while managing diabetes can relieve some physical sexual problems like ED, it can also make you feel stronger, more energetic, and more confident, which also helps in the bedroom.

Resources

American Diabetes Association

“Facts About Type 2”

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html?loc=db-slabnav

“Statistics About Diabetes”

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/

“Type 1 Diabetes”

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/?loc=db-slabnav

Canadian Diabetes Association

“Diabetes Statistics in Canada”

http://www.diabetes.ca/how-you-can-help/advocate/why-federal-leadership-is-essential/diabetes-statistics-in-canada

Hormone Health Network

“What Does Insulin Do?”

http://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/insulin

Medline Plus

“Diabetes”

(Page last updated: November 30, 2016)

https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html