One of the least discussed but most common issues with adult Diabetics, is complications in relations to sex. Realistically, whether you have Type-1 or Type-2, having Diabetes can cause some difficulties in relation to intimacy and sex, and it applies to both men and women.
It may be considered a bit taboo, and most people avoid talking about it. But solid communication is key in overcoming these complications. Trust me, I know all too well the stress and anxiety that comes with a first-time sexual encounter where I have to provide some rudimentary explanation about low blood sugar or why I may not be able to perform in that exact moment. It can make things hard (no pun intended!) and can be damaging to one’s self-esteem and self-image.
The first issue that applies to both genders, is blood circulation. Diabetes affects the nervous system and damages blood vessels. The unfortunate reality is that good blood circulation is necessary for a man to obtain and maintain an erection. Good blood circulation is also required in order for a woman’s vagina to swell, dilate and become lubricated. So you can just imagine that poor blood circulation and neurological damage can throw a damper in THAT department.
Another issue, which should be pretty obvious is one’s control of blood sugar. Nothing kills the mood faster than having your blood sugar drop. Because trust me, everything else drops with it! The best approach is to treat sex much like a workout. If you know sex is coming (which would be pretty presumptuous, but go with it), maybe carb up a bit so that you don’t suffer a low. Make sure to keep some fast-acting carbohydrates next to the bed (or wherever).
Last but not least, is the equipment. If you happen to wear an insulin pump, consider a lower, temporary basal rate for the next hour or suspend and remove your pump. Removing your pump for an hour is usually harmless, providing you don’t forget to reconnect. Seeing an electronic device tethered to the outside of your body can be a bit off-putting to someone who isn’t expecting it. But there again is where that ol’ communication aspect comes in.
I think we can all agree that Diabetes causes enough problems in one’s daily life without hampering one of life’s simple and natural pleasures. So plan ahead, communicate with your partner and be certain to test your blood sugar often. A healthy diet and exercise will also go a long way towards helping to prevent those particular difficulties. ☯