5 Things to Know About Sexual Function in Women with Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes sex sexual health Jun 21, 2022

A woman in my Facebook group asked her doctor about the impact of diabetes on sexual function and he didn’t have an answer her. It’s a great question and I asked her if I could write a blog about it because I felt other women probably had a question around this themselves.

Where do we start with a conversation like this? How do we know if what we are experiencing is normal?

You can only start with your own experience because we are all different. If you were lucky enough to have someone in your life you trusted to talk about these kinds of things, you’ll probably know when your sex life is healthy or when it’s slipping away from you. What is normal or expected? This is a question only you can answer for yourself, but there are some things to know about sexual function and diabetes in women.

Diabetes takes a toll on your whole body. Vision, hearing, brain, heart, liver, digestive tract, arms and legs, everything. Why? Because high blood sugar affects blood vessels and nerves and these occur EVERYWHERE in your body – including your sex organs.

There are so many aspects to sex. Not just the physical part of it but what you were taught about it as you were growing up, what your belief system is around it, what your peer group thought about it, what was expected around it. All these things impact the role of sex in your life.

Let’s take a short tour through the stages of sexual function.

Start with libido. This is a desire for sex or a sex drive.

Next, arousal. This is when sexual excitement is thought about and felt in your body, getting you ready for sex. Blood flows to your sex organs and your body starts to produce lubricating fluid.

Next, intercourse or whatever your next step is.

Then, orgasm – the peak of sexual excitement and pleasure, felt in the genitals, usually with a release of tension.

Each of these areas can be affected by diabetes. This includes poor blood flow, damaged nerves, pain, hormone imbalances, infections like Candidiasis (Thrush in mouth or vagina), urinary tract infections and more. Depending on your age, you may also be dealing with the effects of menopause which can cause similar and overlapping issues with diabetes.

Also affecting this area of your life are emotional issues, depression and anxiety along with the medications that go with these; relationship issues; body image issues, past traumas and more.

If sex is important for you to have a good quality life and you are wondering about the state of your sexual health, here are some things you can do:

1. Get your blood sugar into good control.

2. Talk to your doctor or your OB-GYN about your concerns.

3. Check all your medications for side effects involving sexual function

4. Consider seeing a mental health professional to work on relationship issues, body issues and more.

5. Finally, when you eat healthy, get regular exercise, reduce stress and get great sleep, you will feel better, your body will work better and your overall health will be better.

I am thinking of doing a workshop this summer about how to talk to your doctor – how to get your questions answered and the help you need, including questions about sexual function, without being dismissed. Let me know via direct messenger if you would be interested in a workshop like this.

Dr. Elaine