About 44 lakh (4.4 million) Indians are unaware of the fact that they are diabetic. Almost every organ in the body can be adversely affected with the onset of diabetes. Diabetes affects nerve function and blood flow to any organ in the body. One out of three diabetic patients have sexual health related issues.
Sex problems in men
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) is common sexual dysfunction associated with diabetes. Diabetes causes increase in blood sugar levels. This secondarily causes nerve damage. If the nerves responsible for erection are damaged, signals from brain for erection do not reach penis and can cause ED. Another way by which the blood vessels get narrowed is by cholesterol plaques (atheroma) which tend to occur in diabetics.
Unable to last longer in sex and reduced sex drive:
Sex is also a form of physical exercise and so requires energy. Fluctuating sugar levels in the blood can lead to tiredness and decreased desire for sex. It could also be the side effect of many medications that diabetic patients are usually on (like for hypertension) and so it is important that you share this problem with your doctor so that he can change your medication accordingly.
Low testosterone levels
are seen in diabetic men especially who are obese or don’t perform adequate physical activity.
Unable to father a child:
Retrograde ejaculation is a condition in which semen instead of normal ejaculation goes in opposite direction to the bladder and may be latter peed out. This is due to nerve damage to the sphincter of the urinary bladder that prevents it from happening. This is damaging if you are planning to have children.
Sex problems in women
Among diabetic women sexual dysfunctions are more complex. There are different factors involved in the sexual well-being of diabetic women.
- Reduced interest in sex: Vaginal dryness is common in diabetic women. This is due to blood flow problems to the genitals or hormonal imbalance.
- Vaginal infections: Increased risk of infections of vagina especially in sugar rich environment can lead to many infections like candida, bacterial vaginitis, urinary tract infections.
- Pain during sex: The above conditions can lead to pain during sex and hence hamper a healthy sexual life.
- Urinary incontinence: Women’s bladder can also fall prey to nerve damage but in them it leads to loss of control of passing urine which can occur during sex also making it embarrassing.
Management and treatment
- Keep your sugar level under control and constant level by regular testing, diet and exercise as advised by physician.
- Make time for sex when you feel maximally energized like in the morning
- Use artificial lubricants if vaginal dryness is experienced.
You may need to visit a doctor if –
- you experience ED on multiple occasions, your doctor who will you options like pills (viagra-sildenafil) or vaccum assisted pumps or surgical implants depending on severity
- Change in current diabetic medication may require change if it is causing sexual dysfunction as side effect
- Hormone replacement for improving libido, vaginal dryness and inc testosterone levels.
- Pain during sex, or white curdy discharge in females may mean infection and should be treated promptly.
Sexual health is important for a physical and psychological well-being. Treatments are available.