For Women Only

Sexual dysfunctions not just limited to men


Most folks have heard a lot about the sexual problems that men with diabetes can develop. If they don't have adequate blood flow or nerve communication, they may develop erectile dysfunction — difficulty achieving a successful erection. There are several other issues that can affect them but their possible ED problem is pretty well known. What about women? Did you know that women with diabetes can have sexual dysfunctions too? How much do you know about the ways diabetes can affect women's sexual health? Here is some information you may find helpful:

How many women with diabetes have sexual dysfunctions?

Researchers don't have an exact number, but suspect that close to half of all women with diabetes develop some type of sexual complication. That number is very close to the amount of men with diabetes who have difficulties related to sex.

What types of sexual dysfunctions can women with diabetes have?

Many women with diabetes may have:

What causes these problems?

The causes of some of these issues remain a bit of a mystery. For some women, pre-existing complications, such as nerve damage (neuropathy), blood circulation issues, and depression, negatively affect their sex lives. Stress, hormone swings, menopause, relationship problems, and abnormal blood glucose levels can affect a woman's moods, ability to lubricate, and cause her to feel less comfortable in the bedroom. High glucose levels can also put a woman at risk for developing frequent bladder and yeast infections.

Since it is recommended that women with diabetes have excellent blood glucose control prior to becoming pregnant, a woman who has not achieved good control may worry about becoming pregnant and feel tense during intercourse.

But women who are in good health and have excellent diabetes control can also develop sexual dysfunctions. More research is needed to find the real answers. Studies done on women before 2002 were not done in a reliable way, so their results may not be accurate. Since then, studies have been done with greater care, but it is not that easy to find ladies who are willing to participate in sexual research, so we are learning about these complications at a slower pace.

What treatments are available?

For vaginal dryness, purchase a lubricant made especially for the vaginal area. If arousal is the problem, remember that one of the most powerful sexual organs in the body is the brain. Give yourself time for romance. Appreciate that it may take you a bit longer to get aroused, so ask your partner to be patient. Try to limit the stressful activities in your life and schedule time for sexual activity. If you have pain during intercourse and a lubricant doesn't help, ask your gynecologist about other possible solutions, such as hormonal suppositories. If you have relationship issues, seek help from a qualified mental health professional.

Where can I get additional information about this topic?

Read the articles and view the informative video clips on You can also pick up a copy of Sex and Diabetes — For Him and For Her, a book I authored with Donna Rice. It is a fun and entertaining book that is filled with great information, advice, and aphrodisiac recipes you can enjoy with the one you love. It was nominated for 2008 Consumer Book of the Year by the Society for Sex Therapy and Research.

Don't be shy. If you are a woman with diabetes and are having sexual challenges, speak to your doctor.

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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Jamis Roszler
Janis Roszler

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
Donna Rice

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).

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