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Diabetes and Sex

Diabetes is a disease in which insulin is not sufficiently produced or is not properly utilized, so the body is unable to break down sugar. It can be genetic or brought on by environmental factors such as obesity.

It is very common, with around 6% or the population living with diabetes, and even more prominent in some minority populations.

Diabetes can be controlled, either by proper diet and exercise or by controlling insulin levels. Long-term damage to your health happens when the disease isn’t controlled. A large percentage of diabetics are not aware of the fact that they have diabetes, and it is only diagnosed at a late stage when damage is done to their nervous system and various organs.

For many men, diabetes is diagnosed when they present with erectile dysfunction. This often occurs very late because of refusal to recognize their erectile dysfunction and speak to a physician about it.

Between 35% and 75% of males with diabetes experience erectile dysfunction at some level. The reasons for diabetes causing erectile dysfunction are various:

    1. When diabetes is not controlled, high blood sugar levels lead to nerve damage. Since erections depend on neural messages, damage to these paths disrupts the body’s ability to translate arousal to full erection.
    2. Diabetes causes narrowing of blood vessels. This reduces the quantity of blood that reaches the penis and leads to erectile problems.

Special Considerations

    • There is some concern about diabetic women using hormonal contraceptives, even though most research seems to show that it is safe. It should be discussed with one’s endocrinologist.
    • Diabetic women have an increased chance of miscarriage during their first trimester. Diabetes also leads to various complications during pregnancy (including Gestational Diabetes) for the mother and the fetus.
    • Problems with sexual functioning in women has not been clearly established, but some research has shown that among diabetic women (type 2), there are greater chances of problems reaching orgasm and libido problems.
    • Men whose uncontrolled diabetes leads to nerve damage are likely to experience retrograde ejaculation. This may be confusing and troubling, but it is not dangerous.


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