Women, Sex, and Diabetes
Men aren't the only ones who have sexual problems as a result of diabetes.
Women, Sex, and Diabetes: A Complex Issue
Experts have suggested that one reason there is so little research on women, sex, and diabetes is that for women, achieving sexual satisfaction is a complex issue. That means finding a single “smoking gun” becomes a daunting, and some say, impossible, task.
Albright believes the complexity of a woman’s sexuality is one of the main reasons the impact of diabetes can be so devastating.
“Sometimes sexual problems can be clearly glucose related, but sometimes it’s also the demand that diabetes itself takes on a woman’s life and how coping with the disease can ultimately impact sexual functioning,” she says.
“The demands of the diabetes itself can affect you emotionally and if you’re a woman the stress of those demands is simply more likely to play out in the bedroom."
Greene adds that for many women with diabetes, depression is also a factor. “In and of itself," she says, "depression can impact your intimate life, but so can many of the medications prescribed to women who do develop depression as a result of their diabetes."
Women, Sex, and Diabetes: Getting Help
Although there may be no single answer for every woman whose sex life is affected by her blood sugar, there are two tactics experts say work for every woman:
- Bring your problem out into the open. Telling the doctor about problems in the bedroom may not only help your sex life, it could clue in the doctor that your blood sugar isn't under control. "It’s important to bring that aspect of your life into the examining room," Mezitis says. "It can help you work with your doctor to fine-tune both your medication regimen and the suggested lifestyle changes so you do get the best possible control of your blood sugar."
- Keep your doctor in the loop. Don't be shy about asking your doctor about specific treatments for sex-related problems, Mezitis says.
“If it’s a lubrication issue, for example, or even a sensation issue, there are localized hormone treatments that might be a huge help,” he says.
Likewise, if you have chronic yeast infections that you’re treating with over-the-counter preparations, Greene says to share that with your doctor.
“This is important because chronic yeast infections can be a sign that your blood sugar is not being well controlled during certain times of the month,” Greene says. He says studies have shown many women need more insulin when they're premenstrual.
“Telling your doctor about chronic infections, or any lingering vaginal soreness that interferes with your sex life may actually lead to better control of your sugar levels," Green says, "while at the same time helping to reduce intimate problems."
The bottom line: If you're having problems between the sheets, don’t pull the covers over your eyes and hide.