“Don’t give up and assume sex is just another thing diabetes will take from you”, said Janis Roszler, author of Sex and Diabetes: For Him and For Her.
As a woman with diabetes, you may encounter symptoms, which pose as an obstacle to achieving a satisfying sexual life. However managed appropriately, you can get all the “sugar” your nether regions so desires.
Women with diabetes may experience the following effects on sexual functioning:
- Decreased lubrication to the vagina resulting in vaginal dryness
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Lowered or absent sexual desire
- Reduction in pleasurable sensations
- Diminished or no sexual responsiveness
- Difficulty experiencing orgasm or reaching climax
The good news is having diabetes does not have to mean kissing your sex life goodbye along with the cookies and ice cream. Sexual challenges experienced by diabetic women are manageable and they can lead a fully functional and highly pleasurable sex life.
Below are a number of effective treatment options and strategies available to manage diabetes-related sexual issues commonly experienced by women:
Control your blood sugar levels for optimum sexual functioning
Balancing your blood sugar by ensuring glucose levels are controlled is key to management of sexual dysfunction for women with diabetes. High levels of blood sugar can result in neuropathy (nerve damage) and impaired circulation, which leads to decreased vaginal lubrication and problems reaching orgasm. High blood sugar levels make you feel down, which is hardly a mood conducive to arousal and all things sexy. So keep your blood sugar low if you want to get your libido back up. Vaginal infections are a common grievance for diabetic women. They are preventable through adequate management of blood sugar levels.
How to get your libido back: Reclaiming sexual desire
Ladies, what they say about oysters being aphrodisiac is not merely an old wives tale-science actually supports the notion that consumption of certain foods (such as oysters, red meat, crab and cashews) containing the mineral zinc can positively affect your libido by aiding in the production of testosterone.
Increase clitoral sensation and genital blood flow with the use of sex aids
Diabetes has the propensity to decrease the intensity of feelings, making sexual pleasure less powerful than it used to be. Decreases in blood flow to the vagina’s leads to diminished sexual arousal and sensation. Nerve damage and vascular changes may results in diabetics not reaching orgasm as effortlessly. In practical language: what used to work perfectly well for you to achieve orgasm in the past, may be ineffective now, hence the need to experiment with new techniques and methods is essential. The best way to promote blood flow and maximise clitoral sensation is by using a vibrator specifically targeting the clitoris.
No matter the sex aid, it is very important for safety reasons they be made of medical grade silicone and free of phthalates. Many of the older cheaper sex toys (hard plastic) contain phthalate, now banned by the US government.
Overcome painful or uncomfortable sex by combatting vaginal dryness
Sexual health clinical consultant and director of the Australasian Institute of Sexual Health Medicine, Brett McCann advocates the use of a sugar-free lubricant in order to alleviate vaginal dryness for diabetic women, as lubricants containing sugar will cause an imbalance in vaginal pH levels, potentially resulting in yeast infections. McCann advises women with diabetes to check the list of ingredients before purchasing a lubricant and urges women to select a lubricant, which is silicone-based. Viamax Sensitive Gel for Women is an ideal product for diabetic women experiencing vaginal dryness as the intimate gel not only stimulates natural lubrication and assists to heighten sensitivity, but it also serves to promote blood flow.
If you find that a sexual lubricant is ineffective in managing vaginal dryness, consult with your doctor about whether you are eligible for the vaginal method of estrogen replacement therapy (where the hormone is released into the body via a ring placed into the vagina).
Dealing with body image issues
Women have enough daily media triggers prompting us to be body-conscious, without the trip to the GP advising diabetics to lose weight. Unsurprisingly, women with diabetes tend to experience critical feelings about their bodies, questioning their sexual desirability, which in turn can impede sexual desire (you need to feel sexy, to feel sexy!). Studies consistently indicate that a large proportion of women in today’s society are distracted by negative body image thoughts during sex, specifically, concerns pertaining to what their partner think of their body.
Seek professional support
Research published in Diabetes Care revealed that a mere 19 per cent of women consult with their doctors about sexual concerns. The Australasian Institute of Sexual Health Medicine offers face-to-face, telephone and Skype counselling to address any sexual concerns you may be experiencing.
Seek the support you need today and don’t let your diabetes get in the way of the fulfilling sex life you deserve.
Share your thoughts and experience below if you feel comfortable.