Did you know that diabetes can destroy your sex life? Sounds shocking, but it’s true because diabetes and its complications lead to sexual problems. Diabetes complications can lead to sexual problems like a decrease in libido, lower sex drive, lack of energy, depression, etc. which make it hard to enjoy sexual activities and sometimes lead to further complications. So, it is important to note its symptoms and get treatment until it’s too late.
Diabetes is a chronic endocrinal disease with no cure. It makes the insulin hormone incompetent (that manages blood glucose levels) resulting in increased blood glucose levels. Over time, these increased blood glucose levels lead to serious health-related problems such as blood vessel damage, obesity, damaged kidneys, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, etc.
How does diabetes increase the risk of sexual problems?
As you fail to manage your blood glucose levels you develop conditions like:
- Nerve damage: High blood glucose levels can increase the blood pressure in the blood vessels leading to damaged nerves of the brain and other areas, which is called diabetic neuropathy. This type of nerve damage can cause sexual issues such as numbness, pain, and lack of feeling during sexual intercourse. Neuropathy can make it hard to feel sexual stimulation. Its side effects can make sex painful and unenjoyable.
- Emotional health concerns: Being a diabetic is much more stressful than it seems. There are many things you need to take care of to maintain normal health. Many people don’t maintain honest communication with their family and loved ones and because of the difficulty in managing their conditions, it can lead to emotional health problems that can cause loss of interest in sexual activity, depression, chronic stress, or use of medication that negatively affects your sexual function.
- Hormonal disturbances: Diabetes can affect sex hormones (such as testosterone or estrogen) which can decrease your sex drive, impact libido, lubrication, and the lack of ability to feel sexually aroused.
- Medications and their side effects: Medications that control your blood sugar levels (or medications that help to control stress and depression) can lead to side effects that affect your sexual life such as inability to maintain erection, difficulty feeling aroused, or taking away your sexual interest completely.
- Loss of blood flow: Diabetes increases blood sugar levels which in turn affects the blood flow in the vessels. Men without proper blood flow are unable to have erections (and/or maintain them), and for women, it leads to vaginal dryness.
What makes you more likely to develop sexual problems?
Your sexual health is affected if you have these problems in addition to diabetes:
- High blood cholesterol levels
- Being overweight or obese
- Not being physically active
- Taking medications
- Being a drug addict, smoker, or alcoholic
- Having high blood pressure
- Having neurological disease
Symptoms of sexual dysfunctions
The symptoms you might develop because of diabetes (that affect your sexual activities) include:
- Erection dysfunction
- Sexual disinterest
- Lack of energy or extreme fatigue
- Stress, anxiety, or depression
- Vaginal dryness
- Retrograde ejaculation
- Arousal difficulties
- Decreased sensations
- Intercourse-related pain
- Decreased libido
If you notice any of them, visit your doctor.
Prevention and treatment
While diabetes doesn’t have a cure, you can treat your sexual problems with medications and therapies. Medications such as avanafil, sildenafil, tadalafil, etc. help you to treat erectile dysfunction. But such medications have some side effects too (it might create heart problems) so take them only under medical supervision.
Therapies like hormonal replacement therapy can help both men and women with their sexual issues (such as decreased libido, vaginal dryness, or erectile dysfunction).
Cognitive behavioral therapy or Talk therapy helps you with your stress, anxiety, performance issues, or depression.
Besides medicines, you can follow these tips:
- Change the timing of having sex: Try having sex during the daytime (in the morning or afternoon) when you are full of energy as because of diabetes, most people get exhausted at the end of the day.
- Use lubricants or creams that deal with vaginal dryness: Water-based lubricants are the best, and there are many over-the-counter lubricants and creams available to combat vaginal dryness.
- Try to maintain good health so that you can have a good sex life: Eat healthily, exercise, and meditate to reduce stress- as by maintaining a good lifestyle you can enjoy good sex life.
- Make sure you have effective communication with your life partner, this not only improves your sex life but also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Like any other component of life, sex is also important. Don’t let diabetes destroy it. If you manage your diabetes, you can easily prevent these sexual problems. But still, if you notice any symptoms, visit the doctor to get prompt treatment to maintain a good sex life.
Want to learn how to manage diabetes completely?
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