Both men and women with type 2 diabetes can have frustrating sexuality issues related to the illness.
Type 2 diabetes can muffle an individual’s sex drive regardless of their libido level before having diabetes. The drop in sex drive may be connected to several diabetes factors such as fatigue, hormonal changes, stress, depression, and medication side effects.
Diabetes can also induce either pain or numbness in the genitals, rendering sex uncomfortable and putting a damper on orgasms. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy.
Although it may be tempting to set sexual problems aside and focus on managing the diabetes, this will create relationship stress sooner or later. Having a healthy sexual expression is always a substantial factor in couples’ assessment of relationship satisfaction.
Type 2 Diabetes and Women's Sexuality
Hormonal changes or blood circulation problems can cause women with type 2 diabetes to experience:
- Vaginal dryness
- Incontinence during sex owed to nerve damage in the bladder
- More frequent vaginal and urinary tract infections; both conditions make sex uncomfortable at best, and often painful.
Type 2 Diabetes and Men's Sexuality
- Erectile dysfunction is the primary sexual problem diabetic men report. ED can result from medication side effects, nerve, vascular, or muscle damage, and changes in the body’s production of testosterone.
- Diabetes combined with high blood pressure, psychological or emotional issues, too little exercise, and obesity increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.
- A second concern diabetic men have is retrograde ejaculation, where all or some of their semen is ejaculated in the wrong direction. It goes backward into the bladder instead of out through the penis. This occurs when diabetes renders nerve damage to the muscles (sphincters) responsible for opening and shutting “doorways” in the body.
7 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Type 2 Sex Life
While all of these diabetes related sexual issues might be embarrassing, stress producing, and frustrating, it is important for couples to continue enjoying intimacy. Here are some actions partners can take to restore or maintain sexual pleasure.
1. Be As Healthy As Possible
Eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of sleep, regular exercise, and take your medications as prescribed. Because hypoglycemia (drop in blood sugar) can happen during sex you may want to check your glucose level before getting revved up.
2. Raising the Libido
Some men and women use hormonal replacement therapy to counter issues such as low sex drive, erection unreliability, and vaginal dryness. There are creams, pills, injectables, and patches that will supply the extra hormones. Discuss this with your physician to see if it’s a good option for you.
3. Increasing Energy
If you are too fatigued at night to get intimate, try getting together at a time of day you normally feel at your best. Sex during sunrise or in the afternoon may solve the issue of being too tired after a busy day.
4. Undo the Dryness
Ladies, keep lubricant on hand and be liberal with its use. Lubricants that are water-based are recommended and there are plenty to chose from. You may also need to re-lubricate during sex to keep things going smoothly.
5. Neuropathy Vibes
If you do not already have one, purchase a vibrator and use it every day for a few minutes wherever you have neuropathy symptoms (numbness). Over time this may increase the natural sensitivity in affected areas.
6. Hey Doc
Feel free to discuss diabetes related sexual issues with your doctor. They cannot help you unless you spill the bedroom beans. There may be alternative medications you can try, erectile dysfunction drugs, or the doc might recommend a penile pump. Plus, any sexual problems you have gives the physician relevant information about the severity or progression of your diabetes.
7. Get Creative
This might be the perfect time to experiment with different ways of sharing intimacy. For instance, massaging each other with yummy smelling oils, or enjoying a bath or shower together are ways to keep the flame alive when it’s flickering low.
When managing diabetes, couples sometimes slip into patient and caregiver roles which can dull intimacy. Keep communicating with one another about your sexual desires, problems, or frustrations, and find ways to enjoy each other apart from the illness.