Type 2 Diabetes and Intimacy: How Diabetes Affects Sex Life

Diabetes is a chronic condition linked to numerous complications and concerning side effects. Most of these effects are well known and usually related to cardiovascular complications. Health experts and institutions usually offer management tips on possible effects that include stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure, giving the impression that these conditions are the only major concerns of diabetes. In reality, however, diabetes has broader side effects that include waning sexual performance, with many studies confirming how diabetes affects sexual health.

Kasparas Aleknavičius

2022 Jun 13

10 min read

Diabetes is a chronic condition linked to numerous complications and concerning side effects. Most of these effects are well known and usually related to cardiovascular complications. Health experts and institutions usually offer management tips on possible effects that include stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure, giving the impression that these conditions are the only major concerns of diabetes. In reality, however, diabetes has broader side effects that include waning sexual performance, with many studies confirming how diabetes affects sexual health.

Apart from receiving more attention and better management, the other negative effects of diabetes are discussed more often than the effects of diabetes on the sex life of people with the condition. The reason isn’t far-fetched — there’s a hovering stereotype attached to sex, presenting it as an exclusively private affair that even doctors shouldn’t overindulge patients in, especially if the former isn’t a sexual health expert.

However, turning a blind eye to how diabetes affects sexual desire, arousal, and performance only rids patients of important information that may explain their low performance in intimacy and how they can improve it.

This guide highlights exactly how diabetes affects sexual health, what patients need to know, and how they can revive their passion in the bedroom.

Type 2 Diabetes and Intimacy: How It Affects Men and Women

how it affects men and women

Sexual health is a serious concern for many people, and it’s disturbing that most don’t know that diabetes is at the forefront of the major causes of low libido. Namely, diabetes is highly correlated with sudden and steady sexual problems that many people experience.

While not as popularized as other diabetes complications, there’s been established research on how diabetes and high blood pressure decrease men’s and women’s libido, leaving them undesiring of sex. More concerning is that the change and fall in the sexual drive are often fast, almost uncontrollable, and usually frustrating for couples. Diabetes could see one of the genders who once had a thriving libido and desire become indifferent and almost irritated by sex.

Diabetes affects sexual life either directly or indirectly. For the former, high blood sugar drastically decreases libido, while for the latter, diabetes triggers symptoms like depression, causing a psychological loss of interest in sex. The problem with the two situations is that they could permanently hinder and block a person’s passion for sex, leading to serious dissatisfaction from the more willing partner.

Some similar conditions that affect sex life in men and women include:

  • Diabetes medications side effects
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Chronic, consistent loss of energy
  • Depression
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress, relationship issues, and anxiety

While the above are major causes of low sex drive in people that have diabetes, the condition also affects sex in men and women by causing the following:

Diabetic Neuropathy

This condition is common in people with diabetes and manifests as a loss of sensitivity in almost every body area, including their genitals. While the effect may be physically evident, it actually starts in the brain, making it a serious condition.

The condition may affect different nerves, and people may simply feel numbness and zero sensitivity during sex. Notably, some women may feel pain instead of pleasure, while men may experience erectile dysfunction. Generally, the condition makes sex extremely bland, numb, and even painful.

Relationship Concerns

The effects of diabetes on sex life may not be severe initially. However, a lack of communication and extreme self-pressure between people experiencing dying sex drive only worsen sexual performance.

Due to the inherent human behavior of trying to hide their flaws and vulnerabilities from others, once sexually active partners often attempt to mask their fading libido from their other half. They often try to get better as soon as possible, leading to serious nervousness during intimacy, which is often counterproductive.

Most sexually active partners who choose this option experience a faster decline in their intimacy life compared to those who open up to their partners. Studies indicate that the latter is more likely to get help and fix their problems. In a worst-case scenario, they usually find ways to ensure it’s not a big issue.

How It Affects Men

While diabetes does present some sex-related effects common to both genders, research indicates some are more specific towards the male gender, as we’ll observe below.

Erectile Dysfunction

Sexual performance has long been used as a yardstick to gauge a man’s prowess in a relationship. While this bias may seem a bit unfair, this sentimentalism still exists to date.

Two reasons are attributed to this bias; male biology and societal expectations. However, the first is more evident in a relationship with unsatisfied intimacy.

The male biological makeup requires men to put up a higher level of commitment to have a satisfying intimacy with their partners. The male penis is extremely sensitive, and diabetes-influenced health concerns are immediately evident in the form of erectile dysfunction.

Compared to a woman’s body that doesn’t always need arousal to achieve coitus, the male penis requires blood flow from blood vessels to achieve an erection. Diabetes and high blood sugar increase blood pressure and make blood flow to the penis area difficult to achieve.

Apart from distorted blood flow, high blood sugar also causes a drastic decrease in testosterone, which plays an essential role in male arousal. Without arousal and the desire to share intimacy, there’ll be no mental will and physical ability to achieve an erection. In other words, low testosterone also causes erectile dysfunction.

Without an erection, there can’t be penetration, explaining why most sexually frustrating relationships usually have males as the culprits.

Retrograde Ejaculation

This is a sexual complication that men experience during sex. This condition is characterized by semen being ejaculated inside the bladder instead of the normal release through the penis. This condition occurs when the internal sphincter muscles (ISM) don’t function properly.

The ISM is responsible for opening and closing passages in the body. In a normal male, the muscles close the passage of the bladder during ejaculation, forcing semen to come out of the penis. However, high blood sugar distorts the muscles’ function, leaving the bladder passage open and semen stored there until urination.

How It Affects Women

The female gender isn’t left out, as diabetes does trigger a series of events that alter their sex life. The following section talks more about this.

Low Libido

Low libido is often more common in women than in men. Many research suggest that women are more prone to draw close to celibacy in a relationship than men, and diabetes only makes it worse. While most women can still manage or try to be intimate with their partner, their high blood sugar-induced low libido only worsens with time and eventually becomes noticeable to even their partner.

Dryness and Pains During Sex

Apart from being a consequence of low libido, vaginal dryness is common in women with high blood sugar. This condition leads to painful sex due to excessively high friction during penetration. If not properly handled, it could lead to serious vagina peels, bumps, and other sexual health problems like inflammation in the vulva area.

Reducing and Preventing the Effect of Diabetes on Your Sexual Life

intimacy and diabetes

Your sex life doesn’t necessarily have to suffer if you have diabetes, thanks to groundbreaking discoveries in this field. Here are the best ways to ensure enjoyable intimate moments with your partner despite having high blood sugar levels.

Therapy Medications

Diabetes-influenced poor sexual performance can deal a great blow to a person’s confidence. Moreover, most people typically kickstart treatment with non-diabetes treatment methods having little results may create their psychology that nothing might work. However, using a diabetes-reacted therapy medication will gradually revive patients’ performance and increase sexual desire.

Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) works for men and women by improving their sexual function and encouraging a healthy sex life. HRTs may come in the form of pills, creams, patches, and injectable medications.

Lubricants for Women

While opting for therapy helps in many ways, lubricants can also help women have less painful sex while treatments are yet to take their full effect. There are many safe and vaginal-friendly lubricants that women can use to make penetration effortless. Using them can help women look forward to having sex and warm up to it.

Adopt Natural Diabetes Management Methods

Implementing healthy natural lifestyle changes will help achieve low blood sugar and improve healthy sensitivity and arousal in males and females. This section highlights some of the major natural methods people diagnosed with diabetes can consider.

Dieting

Eating a balanced diet can help prevent you from developing diabetes. When dieting, you have to limit how you eat some foods and eat more of others. Overall, the key to avoiding diabetes through dieting is eating a bunch of healthy foods.

The following tips should serve as pointers when kickstarting your dieting journey:

  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Eat smaller portions of food
  • Eat more fiber that you could find in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans
  • Choose healthy grains like brown rice and quinoa
  • Stop drinking alcohol
  • Go for healthy proteins like eggs, tofu, salmon fish, and nuts
  • Your source of fat should be fish, avocado, olive oil, seeds, and nuts
  • You should avoid meat sometimes

Try Intermittent Fasting

Researchers show that when you eat is as important as what you eat for your health. Authors of a newly published (2022) online study in the Endocrine Reviews journal prove that eating in a consistent 8 to 10 hours format could help prevent diabetes.

Satchidananda Panda, a researcher from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, said intermittent fasting could boost the quality of a person’s life and reduce their diabetic risk. The most trusted intermittent fasting is the 16:8 strategy, where you eat for eight hours and fast for the day’s remaining hours.

Exercising

Exercising and staying active can help lower your blood sugar, reducing your diabetic risk. Dawn Sherr, RD, from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, says that exercising doesn’t translate into running a marathon. She added that swimming, working, and playing with kids are ways to exercise.

The following are easy exercises to help you get started:

  • Walk on a track outdoors or indoors
  • Join a dance group or class
  • Stretch
  • Ride an indoor stationary bike or an outdoor bicycle
  • Try tai chi or yoga
  • Go swimming
  • Use elastic bands or light weights to engage in resistance training
  • Play tennis with friends

It’s recommended that you speak with your doctor or health expert to determine the exercise package that best suits you.

Conclusion

This guide has successfully considered, to a large extent, how diabetes affects the love and passion that people share with their partners. An important point to note in this guide is that diabetes affects the performance of both men and women. Fortunately, we were able to consider the different ways the condition affects patients’ intimacy to help them know how to live healthily and restore their drive. Key among the few proactive steps outlined is the natural and effective dieting option.

Dieting is one of the best diabetes management recommendations for patients due to how it decreases high blood sugar, which directly connects with low libido. This article has successfully outlined the best categories of food that patients should eat.

The good thing is that patients can get the foods that fall into the respective categories by working with an endocrinologist, dietitian, or meal resource app. While the first two options require patients to meet up with an expert or book an appointment virtually, the third yields extremely fast results as hundreds of expert meal apps are available to patients.

Our Klinio app, for example, is one of the trusted meal apps that recommend the best foods people with diabetes should eat to drop their high blood sugar and improve their libido. You’ll get regular updates on the right foods to eat to improve your intimacy and have them in different varieties to avoid the blandness that comes with a repeated meals routine.

Written by

Kasparas Aleknavičius

Kasparas is one of our freshest doctor’s in the Klinio family. With his master’s in medicine and broad-spectrum experience in health, he is currently helping our customers better understand diabetes management. He is participating in every product project - from our blog and hub articles to diabetes management subtleties. As a healthcare futurist, he is also constantly looking for innovative ways to control blood glucose and assure the easiest diabetes management complexes.

Take a quiz and get your diabetes-management plan today!