Prediabetes and Your Love Life

Heed health warnings to keep intimacy alive.


When Carrie got the news, she was thrilled: "Hurray, I'm safe!  I don't have diabetes!"  True, her blood glucose was not in the diabetes range, but it was higher than normal.  According to her doctor, she had prediabetes.  Carrie, who has a family history of type 2 diabetes, believed she had dodged a bullet because she didn't have "real" diabetes. But there was still plenty of work to do. Her doctor had urged her to eat healthier, move more, and lose some weight to avoid or hopefully delay getting diabetes.  She was pleased to hear this, and figured that she would get around to doing some of the changes in a few months or so.

So, what does love have to do with this?

According to the American Diabetes Association, prediabetes prompts several good reasons why Carrie should follow her doctor's advice sooner rather than later.  One of these reasons has to do with her love life.  During the prediabetes period, changes may happen to the body that impact a person's ability to enjoy intimacy.

To have a healthy sexual response, everyone needs energy, good blood flow, and healthy nerve communication.  When people have prediabetes, their blood glucose (sugar) level climbs above normal and may start to damage the heart, circulatory system, and nerves as well as other parts of the body. When your glucose level is elevated, some glucose remains in the blood stream instead of making its way to cells to supply them with energy.  Bedroom activities are a form of exercise – you need available energy to participate fully.

When blood flow is slowed or impeded in any way, men may have more difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection and women may not get enough blood flow to the pelvic area to respond appropriately to sexual stimulation. If nerve damage interferes with the brain's ability to send and receive messages, it becomes more difficult to respond physically to a sexually stimulating event. The good news is that doctors already know what to do if you have prediabetes. Many of these issues can be reversed if you take your prediabetes diagnosis seriously and make the recommended lifestyle changes to help preserve or possibly regain your sexual response, if negative changes have already occurred. 

If you are like Carrie and believe all is well because you don't have "real" diabetes, please reconsider.  You may not see your doctor for a while and aren't in any immediate danger, but now is the time to make these changes.  Think of your prediabetes condition as a loving warning that provides you with time to make real improvement in your life. If the threat of a future diabetes diagnosis doesn't motivate you to employ the usual methods of treatment for prediabetes — lose some weight, become more active, and make healthier food choices — consider how much you value your intimate life and take the recommended steps to keep your bedroom life healthy and fun.

Read more of Janis' columns here.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: April 01, 2014

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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by Brenda Bell
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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