Most people assume that sex always takes a backseat for people with serious illnesses, but they assume wrong. Regardless of what medical problems a person might be facing, sexual expression and sexuality often rank high in determining their quality of life. This is especially true for people with type 2 diabetes, a condition with major effects on people’s sex lives.
Problems arising due to the condition are similar in men and women, but in some cases, they are gender-specific. It is important to recognize these problems so you can try and address them to enjoy life even if diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Sexual Health Issues Faced by People with Type 2 Diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes patients suffer a loss of libido which is utterly frustrating, especially if they had had a satisfying sex life before they were diagnosed. Low sex drive among men and women with this condition is often a result of hormonal changes, low energy levels, depression, anxiety, and side effects of medications used to treat associated health problems.
- Besides low libido, people also experience diabetic neuropathy, which causes pain and numbness in the genitals. The result of this is painful, unenjoyable sex where orgasm is inhibited.
- These problems pose serious challenges, especially among couples. People feel so uncomfortable discussing sexual problems with their partners that they avoid sex altogether. Some couples get so caught up in their roles as either caregiver or patient that romance becomes a distant thought. Poor communication between partners after one party gets a type 2 diabetes diagnosis often leads to a decline in intimacy.
Sexual Health Issues Faced by Men with Type 2 Diabetes
- Erectile dysfunction is the biggest sexual health problem among men with type 2 diabetes. For those under 45, erectile dysfunction is a warning sign that they might already be suffering from diabetes. Facts show that most male members of society only get the diabetes diagnosis when they seek treatment for erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction means that one is unable to maintain an erection due to damaged muscles, veins, or nerves. The problem could also be due to medications or changes in testosterone levels. Though, keep in mind that medical experts estimate that 20-75% of all men will experience erectile dysfunction at one point. Hypertension, obesity, and depression are some of the issues associated with type 2 diabetes that also contribute to erectile dysfunction.
- Men could also suffer retrograde ejaculation characterized by semen getting ejaculated back into the bladder. Abnormally high blood sugar levels in patients could cause damage to internal sphincter muscles, which should open and close appropriately to allow semen out through the penis and not into the bladder.
Issues Affecting Women with Type 2 Diabetes
- Vaginal dryness is the biggest complaint by women with type 2 diabetes and is likely the result of poor blood flow to the genitals or hormonal changes.
- Women are also more susceptible to infections and inflammation which make sex very painful. Nerve damage in the bladder also causes incontinence which, in turn, makes sex an embarrassing encounter.
How to Stop Type 2 Diabetes from Negatively Impacting Your Sex Life
Many people with this type of diabetes often give up on sex because it becomes too painful and embarrassing. Abandoning intimacy seems like the easier thing to do, there are several ways to ease type 2 diabetes symptoms and make sex a great experience despite the illness:
- Choose times when your energy is at its peak to have sex if fatigue is a problem. Sex after a long day in the office might not be ideal for a type 2 diabetes patient. However, mornings or afternoons could be great as energy levels are often high after a period of good rest or an energizing meal. You must experiment to figure out which times are the most ideal for sex if low energy and fatigue often come in the way of pleasure.
- Women who experience dryness could conquer this problem with a good lubricant. Water-based lubes are most ideal, and you have nothing but a myriad of great options.
- All patients need to observe healthy lifestyle habits if they are to have a great sex life. You must watch your blood sugar levels if you intend to have sex. Just as exercising, having sex requires expending lots of energy. If your lifestyle promotes good heart health, you will enjoy proper blood flow to the genitals, which is essential for great sex even without type 2 diabetes. Experts recommend checking your blood sugar levels before intercourse to avoid problems.
- If neuropathy is a problem, don’t worry as you can utilize a vibrator to increase stimulation. Both men and women can use a vibrator for a few minutes each day to bring nerves back to life. This might take a while but it is certainly worth trying.
- Most people fear it but talking about sexual problems with your caregiver is often the best way to solve them. Openly discuss these issues with your healthcare provider as it could contribute to better management of the condition. Ask about the medications you receive, and especially the negative side effects that they may have on your sexual life. If possible, your doctor can recommend medications that will deal with type 2 diabetes symptoms without compromising your sexuality. Proper management of type 2 diabetes is important if you want to avoid sexual problems that it brings about. Patients should listen to their doctors and rely on the tips they dole out to keep their sex life active and fulfilling.
Couples must remember that relationships are not all about sexual intercourse. This will enable them to find other ways to express intimacy even in the absence of sexual desire. Making time for each other, cuddling, massages, and baths are simple ways to connect with your partner that don’t involve intercourse. You should also be open to counseling or support groups to help with various emotional issues associated with sexual problems. While you are encouraged to talk about your medical problems, it is important that you make time with your partner when diabetes is off limits so you can discuss other matters concerning the relationship. There may be challenges that arise due to type 2 diabetes but these shouldn’t be the reason why sex is off the table.