Dr Aidin Rawshani

Sex and diabetes (type 1 and type 2 diabetes)


Sex and Diabetes

For most people, six is an important part of life. Likewise, sex is a natural part of our relationships, but regardless of this, it can be difficult to talk about sex. For those who have diabetes, this can become an even greater concern. Diabetes can affect sex life in several ways and those who have diabetes may experience that it is difficult to discuss possible problems with their partners. It is important that you dare discuss any problems with your partner, as well as with your caregiver who can help you in several ways. It should also be mentioned that diabetes does not necessarily involve problems with sex life. In addition, most problems can be remedied or at least alleviated. Below are the most common and most important issues related to diabetes and sex.

High and low blood sugar during sex

Six are a type of physical activity and can, therefore, lead to blood sugar drop (hypoglycemia). This is usually not a problem for those who have type 2 diabetes but can be of concern for those who have type 1 diabetes. You can reduce the risk of falling blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during sex by checking your blood sugar before and after you have sex, just as you do before and after physical activity.

If you have a continuous glucose meter, you have an advantage because you can track your blood sugar from one minute to the next. Modern devices can also sound an alarm at high and low values, which makes it easy to correct blood sugar.

Have sugar close at hand

Since you may have hypoglycemia (blood sugar fall) during sex, you should have a sweet drink, glucose tablets or any other sugar-containing at hand.

Dare to take a break

It is quite reasonable to take a break in the middle of intercourse if you feel tired or experience a fall in blood sugar. Check your blood sugar and correct it if necessary. Listen to your body.

Take it easy with alcohol

Alcohol increases the risk of blood sugar falling (hypoglycemia). White wine, sparkling wine and other beverages with high sugar content are preferable because the risk of hypoglycemia is lower than to spirits, for example. If you can refrain from alcohol, this means that the risk of hypoglycemia is lower.

Sexual Dysfunction

Diabetes means having high blood sugar and high blood sugar is harmful. High blood sugar leads to damage to nerves (neuropathy) and blood vessels (angiopathy). Such injuries lead to lower sensitivity of the nerves and worse blood flow in the blood vessels. Because we have both nerves and blood vessels in our genitals, diabetes can lead to poor functioning of the genitals. This means that people with diabetes may have reduced sensitivity during intercourse and this can make sexual intercourse less enjoyable. But with diabetes may have problems with impotence (erectile dysfunction). Remember that sexual dysfunction does not affect everyone with diabetes and, in addition, it can be prevented by good blood sugar control.

Sex drive: wanting to have sex

People with diabetes can, like any other person, get worse sex drive. If you experience that your sex drive is low, it doesn’t have to be a consequence of your diabetes. Being tired, depressed or having poor self-confidence can also lead to lower sex drive. Some medicines (e. g. antidepressants) also cause less sex drive.

Unfortunately, some people with diabetes may feel a reduced sex drive because they are ashamed of their illness. Some people with diabetes are not speaking openly about their illness and it can be difficult to show that you have an insulin pump or other technical means. It is important to dare to talk about your illness, both with your caregiver and with your partner. Dare to talk about the disease is a first step in accepting it, both self and the environment. You’re not the only one to have diabetes. Over 400,000 Swedes have type 2 diabetes and about 50,000 Swedes have type 1 diabetes.

A good relationship assumes good communication

So having diabetes can negatively affect sex life. No matter what type of diabetes you have, it’s important to dare talk about the problems. Having a safe and open discussion with one’s partner is key for the sexual life and the whole relationship to be as good as possible. Dare to talk about problems is also a prerequisite for other aspects of a relationship. If you and your partner have problems, you best solve them together, and that requires both understanding and effort. If you don’t have a permanent partner and don’t want to talk about your diabetes with a temporary partner, it’s okay — you decide what’s best for you and your diabetes.

Insulin pump and sex

Insulin pump can lead to many questions. Will the needle go out during intercourse? Will I get a blood sugar drop? Will the pump be in the way? Will my partner find it strange that I have the pump on? Again, the most important thing is that you do what feels best for you and your diabetes, and be happy to discuss with your partner so that all the questions are resolved. Some people with an insulin pump prefer to disconnect the pump during sexual intercourse to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, but this does not suit everyone. Picking off the pump means it won’t get in the way and the risk of getting blood sugar drops is reduced. However, do not forget to put the pump back as your blood sugar may rise otherwise, even if you have insulin pens at hand.

Do you have a continuous glucose meter?

A continuous glucose meter can be very good at sex because you have uninterrupted control of your blood sugar. Modern devices alarm when blood sugar is too low or too high.

What to think about as a woman

Many women with type 1 diabetes experience that the mucous membranes in the lower abdomen are dry, which is most often due to high blood sugar. Dry mucous membranes can make sexual intercourse unpleasant and painful. This can be remedied with ordinary lubricants.

What to think about as a man

High blood sugar can lead to erectile dysfunction (impotence) and problems with ejaculation (ejaculation). This is a complication of high blood sugar. It can also lead to something called retrograde ejaculation, which means that the release ends up in the bladder instead of coming out through the urethra.

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