Although sexual dysfunction in women with diabetes is less obvious than in men, physical and emotional issues associated with this disease and its complications can affect a woman’s sex life. The issues can range from lack of desire to physical discomfort during sex. The good news is that you don’t have to sweep the problem under the carpet as there are treatments to make you feel more comfortable and at ease.
Here are the most common sexual problems in women with diabetes and advice on how to solve them:
Vaginal dryness. It is of frequent occurrence in many women, especially after menopause, and one of the main sexual issues for women with diabetes of all ages. The problem can occur due to poor blood flow to the vagina as a result of hardening of blood vessels in the vaginal wall. This affects lubrication, leading to dryness, discomfort and even pain during intercourse. Gels, creams and other vaginal lubricants can help cope with the problem. If they don’t, inquire your doctor about suppositories, estrogen rings or hormone replacement.
Low libido and arousal. High blood sugar levels can affect tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the nerves. When those nerves don’t work the way they are supposed to, the sensation in the vagina and clitoris are diminished. This nerve damage can make you unable to get aroused or maintain adequate sexual excitement, as well as reach orgasm. All this makes you less likely to engage in sexual activity. Ways to treat reduced sexual response include changes in position and adequate stimulation during intercourse. Kegel exercises can also help improve sexual response.
Infections. Diabetic women easily get urinary tract infections as bacteria are highly attracted to elevated sugar. For example, irritation, itching and burning sensation due to yeasts can make sex uncomfortable and unwanted. The advice is to keep yourself as clean as possible before and after sex, and immediately consult your gynecologist if you suspect an infection has already developed. Avoid sexual activity during the time of treatment.
Mental disorders. Challenges of managing diabetes can make women suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression. Together with fluctuating blood sugars, depressive feelings can make women more tired and irritable, thus decreasing their desire to engage in sex. Moreover, diabetes can make women gain weight, which can also affect their self-esteem and make them turn their back on sex life. What you can do is to accept your diabetes and do everything you can to stay healthy, because you have to feel good about yourself to enjoy sex. Counseling and medical therapy can also help.
Feeling sick during intercourse. A drop in blood sugar during intercourse can make you sick, brining on sweating, confusion, irritability and headache. This ruins the moment and snuffs out sexual flame like a cold shower, resulting in decreased sexual desire. Since sex is a workout and our body uses energy, nerves, muscles and sugar in response to sexual intercourse, it is necessary to check blood sugar before and after sex. It is also wise to keep juice, cookies or snacks on the bedside table to avoid hypoglycemia bouts.
Sexual dysfunction in women with diabetes shouldn’t be neglected. Its recognition and multidisciplinary management, such as healthy diet, exercise, keeping blood sugar target range and counseling for emotional issues, is of great benefit. It is also important to be open with your partner to ease the tension that arises from these problems and affects your sexual relationship.