Diabetes Management,Health

4 Ways Diabetes Affects a Woman’s Sex Life and 10 Solutions for It

May 2022

Sex – it’s a word with a lot of taboo surrounding it. But that stigma is more so attached to women. So women talking about it, discussing any issues they may have and going to a doctor to resolve any of those problems is often delayed because they’re embarrassed or simply feel that their sexual health is a non-issue.

And that’s what I’d like to talk about today – women, their sexual health and diabetes.

The exact cause of sexual issues in women with diabetes is lesser-known than those in men with diabetes. But, these issues can broadly be attributed to slower blood flow to the vaginal and genital tissue, mood and hormone changes and other psychological factors.

Also, high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels that directly impact the functioning of genitals – which in turn affects their sexual functioning. Also, since the blood flow to the genitals is reduced, it affects the sensitivity and lubrication of the sexual organs.

And it’s more common than you think: About 35% of women with diabetes have sexual issues [1]. So, if you’re experiencing sexual issues, you don’t have to live with it. Instead, we have helped to get your sex life going.

Common Issues Women with Diabetes Face:

  • Vaginal dryness:

One of the biggest sexual complaints in women with diabetes, vaginal dryness can lead to painful sex. This issue worsens when a woman is menopausal or postmenopausal because she has less estrogen, leading to less lubrication. Also, the nerve damage that comes with diabetes reduces stimulation and makes sex painful. This is a vicious cycle where the woman experiences pain and tenses up during sex which causes more pain – leading the woman to avoid sex altogether.

  • Vaginal infections:

If a woman has poorly controlled diabetes, she is more likely to have yeast and other vaginal infections. That apart, she is also at greater risk of suffering from urinary tract infections. All of which makes a woman not only shy away from sex, but the related pain can make sex a chore rather than pleasurable.

  • Sex drive and trouble having an orgasm:

A 2012 study found that women who have insulin-dependent diabetes are 80% more likely to have trouble reaching orgasm than women who don’t have diabetes [2]. That apart, a woman with diabetes may find it hard to get in the mood for sex and climax.

  • Psychological factors:

Apart from that, diabetes can also have a psychological impact on a woman, making having sex and talking about any issues more difficult. She may have troubles with self-image, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Tips to Get Your Sex Life Back on Track:

 

Tip 1: Talk to your doctor:

Did you know that about 80% of women with diabetes don’t talk to their doctors about their sexual issues [3]. But when you do, he will be able to narrow down the reasons for those issues and suggest a treatment.

Tip 2: Ease vaginal dryness:

An excellent over-the-counter vaginal lubricant can help ease vaginal dryness during sex. But that’s not all it can do. You can use a vaginal lubricant regularly to help you feel more comfortable throughout the day. You should talk to your gynaecologist to help you choose one that works for you– especially if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Tip 3: Try a low-dose estrogen ring:

If you’re menopausal or postmenopausal, having your doctor prescribe a low-dose estrogen ring will help relieve painful sex, especially if you’re menopausal.

Tip 4: Slow down sex:

When you have diabetes, your body responds slower than others without diabetes. So, going slow during sex and increasing the amount of foreplay can help make the whole experience more enjoyable.

Tip 5: Get some exercise:

Exercise helps reduce stress, improves flexibility, releases feel-good hormones and helps manage your blood sugar levels better – a win-win for your sex life!

Tip 6: Eat a healthy diet:

Eating a healthy diet can help you lose weight, manage your blood sugar levels better and improve sex. A study found that women with diabetes, who ate a diet focused on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, were more satisfied in all areas of sex [3].  You can read more about weight loss here.

Tip 7: Get your blood sugar levels under control:

When you get your blood sugar levels in check, it helps reduce the occurrence of vaginal and urinary tract infections, making sex less painful and more pleasurable. So, think of it this way – sex is good for diabetes and being healthy is great for sex! You can read more about managing your blood sugars better, here

Tip 8: Practice pelvic floor exercises:

A study found that doing pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can help improve a woman’s sexual response after menopause [4]. It’s easy, can be done anywhere and works well. So why not give it a shot?

Tip 9: Talk to someone:

Depression, anxiety, and body-image issues can severely impact your sex life and your blood sugar levels.  So it’s best to speak to a trained psychologist about these issues and find solutions for them. It can also help reduce the anxiety you experience concerning painful sex. Read more about the interlinking between diabetes and depression

Tip 10: Check the stress:

Stress, diabetes, and low sexual drive go hand in hand. Lowering and managing your stress levels helps you keep your blood sugar levels in check (indirectly) and help you get in the mood. An excellent way to do that is to engage in stress-reducing activities like reading, drawing, meditation, box breathing, or listening to music. But to find a stress-relieving activity that works for you can be challenging, so speaking to a trained psychologist can go a long way. read more about how stress can worsen diabetes.

And that’s where Fitterfly’s Diabefly program comes in. With Diabefly, you get access to a trained psychologist who can work with you to help resolve any issues you might be facing. You also have a trained physiotherapist and nutritionist by your side to help guide you through the entire process and manage your blood sugar levels better.

Sounds like something you’d like to try? Give us a call at  022 48971077 (Ext 1) or check us out at https://www.fitterfly.com/diabefly

 

References:

  1. Ejegi‐Memeh, Stephanie, Sharron Hinchliff, and Maxine Johnson. “Sexual health discussions between healthcare professionals and midlife‐older women living with Type 2 diabetes: An interpretative phenomenological study.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 77.3 (2021): 1411-1421.
  2. University of California, San Francisco: “Women with Diabetes More Likely to Experience Sexual Dissatisfaction. from (https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/07/98664/women-diabetes-more-likely-experience-sexual-dissatisfaction)
  3. Diabetes Forecast: A Mediterranean Food Plan Can Protect Health.
  4. Diabetes Forecast: Diabetes and Sex: What You Wanted to Know,” “Embarrassing Body Problems You Need to Know About.
  5. Meeking, D. R., J. A. Fosbury, and M. H. Cummings. “Sexual dysfunction and sexual health concerns in women with diabetes.” Practical Diabetes 30.8 (2013): 327-331a.
  6. Winkley, Kirsty, Camilla Kristensen, and Jackie Fosbury. “Sexual health and function in women with diabetes.” Diabetic Medicine 38.11 (2021): e14644.

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