Many people write to me about their diabetes-related sexual complications. They say they have given up and view the loss of their sex life as another casualty of having diabetes. It is true that diabetes may change how you do many things, but you don't have to give up on intimacy and having a fulfilling love life.
Men with diabetes can have difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. Women with diabetes may have vaginal dryness, feel pain during intercourse, or lose interest in sexual activity altogether. Even partners of individuals with diabetes can let their anger or frustration with their loved ones spill over into the bedroom. Intimacy and sex don't have to be casualties in the fight for good health. Let me help you return some fun to your intimate activities.
First, the Basics
If you have erection problems, you can choose from many options - oral medications, vacuum pumps, penile constriction rings, suppositories, injections, implants, penile sleeves, and even testosterone gels to help rebalance your hormone level. Don't be discouraged if your first choice doesn't do the job for you. Work closely with your healthcare team and either alter the dose to fit your needs better or try something else. And don't forget to refrain from smoking and maintain a healthy glucose and blood pressure level; all helpful steps that can transform your sexual performance.
Women with diabetes-related sexual challenges can use vaginal lubricants to help get additional moisture during intimate activity. Some may also benefit from hormonal suppositories. A visit with your doctor can help you get the right treatment. As with men, maintaining good glucose control can help you feel your best and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
Now, Some Fun
I like to suggest brief, relaxing baths, long walks, romantic movies, and massages to my patients who want more intimacy and to enrich their intimate activity. While writing my book, Sex and Diabetes – For Him and For Her, I happened upon some fun research by Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist who founded The Smell and Taste Treatment & Research Foundation (www.smellandtaste.org). He discovered that certain scent and odor combinations enhance penile blood flow in men and vaginal blood flow in women. The scent combinations that pack the greatest punch in men are:
Lavender & pumpkin pie
Doughnuts & black licorice
Pumpkin pie & doughnuts
Many older men respond to the scent of vanilla also.
The scent combinations that have the greatest effect in women are:
Good & Plenty (black licorice candy) & cucumber
Pumpkin pie & lavender
And good ‘ole baby powder
Burn candles that contain these scents; spray the sheets with scented extracts; or wear them when you are together. They may not work for you, but you should have fun trying them out!
I hope you won't give up on intimacy and a fulfilling love life. The physical connection you have with a loved one can add a great deal of fun and pleasure to your life.
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: June 20, 2013
All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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dLife's Sex & Intimacy Content is contributed & moderated by
Janis Roszler MSFT, RD, CDE, LDN
Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N is the American Association of Diabetes Educators' 2008-2009 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a certified diabetes educator, marriage and family therapist, and registered dietitian. Her books include Sex and Diabetes (ADA) Diabetes on your OWN Terms (Marlowe & Co) and The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes (Surrey books).
Donna Rice MSW, BSN, RN, CDE
Donna Rice MBA,RN,CDE,FAADE is the 2007 Past President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She is a registered nurse, diabetes educator and has developed numerous educational programs on sexual health and wellness. She is the co-author of Sex and Diabetes (ADA) and Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction - A Quick ‘n' Easy Handbook For the Diabetes Educator (Bella Vita). Her newest publication is a children's book, The Magic is Me (Searchlight Press).