Women, Sex, and Diabetes

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on April 30, 2017

Diabetes can cause physical and emotional issues that can affect your sex life. For women, the problem can be less obvious than it is for men. If you don't feel quite like yourself in the bedroom, there are things you can do to be more comfortable and at ease.

Common Problems

Dryness.Vaginal dryness is the most common sexual issue for women who have diabetes. High blood sugar levels can harden the blood vessels in the vaginal wall. That can affect lubrication and make sex uncomfortable. Prescription or over-the-counter vaginal lubricants can help.

Less feeling. High blood sugar also can affect the tiny blood vessels that bring blood to your nerves. If those nerves don't work the way they should, you can lose some feeling in your vagina. That can make you less likely to get aroused or to have an orgasm.

Vaginal infections. If your blood sugar isn't managed, you're also more likely to get a yeast or urinary tract infection. The itching, burning, and irritation they cause can make sex uncomfortable. See your doctor at the first sign of one of these infections.

Depression. The challenges of managing diabetes can make you feel anxious or depressed. That can affect your desire for sex. Type 2 diabetes also can cause you to gain weight. That can affect your self-esteem. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both can help.

What to Do

If diabetes is affecting your sexual satisfaction, try these things to help:

Keep your blood sugar under control. This can go a long way toward fixing many sexual problems. Vaginal dryness, yeast infections, and a decreased sex drive can all get better when your blood sugar levels are well managed. That can even help reverse some nerve damage.

Talk to your doctor. Don't be shy. Your doctor can help narrow down the possible causes of your issues and suggest treatments. Some causes may not be linked to diabetes. Medications like antidepressants and blood pressure pills can also affect your sex life. If you're uncomfortable talking to your doctor about sex, see a doctor who specializes in sexual medicine.

Talk with your partner. These issues can take a toll on your relationship, especially if you keep them to yourself. To keep your relationship with your spouse or partner on solid ground, it's important to talk about what you're feeling. Being open with your partner can help ease any tension that may be affecting your sexual relationship. It may even bring you closer together.

Show Sources

American Diabetes Association: "Sexual Health."

Cleveland Clinic: "What to Do When Diabetes Affects Your Sex Life."

Diabetes Forecast: "Diabetes and Sex: What You Wanted to Know."

Independent Diabetes Trust: "Women, Sex and Diabetes."

Joslin Diabetes Center: "Sexual Dysfunction: Causes and Symptoms."

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Diabetes & Sexual & Urologic Problems."

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