Sex Talk

Will being diabetic affect my sex life?

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions

10 December 2017 - 00:00
If you're diabetic, maintaining good blood-sugar levels can make all the difference to your sex life.
If you're diabetic, maintaining good blood-sugar levels can make all the difference to your sex life.
Image: 123RF/vadimgozhda

Q. I have been diagnosed as diabetic. Please can you tell me how this will affect my sex life?

A. Diabetes is a condition leading to high blood-sugar levels and causes damage to nerves and blood vessels throughout the body, including the neurovascular network to the clitoris and the penis.

The nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, results in numbness, pain and lack of sensation in the genitals. Symptoms can include loss of libido, orgasm inhibition, reduced feelings of stimulation and decreased vaginal lubrication. Men can experience erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction.

Type 2 diabetes is not the only illness that can cause low libido.

Others include depression, fatigue and lethargy, stress, anxiety, and relationship issues.

One side effect of medications for hypertension can be reduced sexual desire.

Poorly controlled diabetes also makes one vulnerable to recurrent bladder infections and vaginal candidiasis. Maintaining good blood-sugar levels can make all the difference in improved sexual and urogenital symptoms.

Unfortunately, research into female sexual dysfunction lags behind research into male sexual dysfunction. This means that there are fewer medical options to treat women with sexual dysfunction. It may be worthwhile to start using a lubricant for vaginal dryness.

If you continue to experience sexual difficulties, consult your doctor for advice. You may need an assistance of a sex therapist if there is impact on your emotions or intimate relationships.

• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, DISA Clinic, 011-886-2286, visit safersex.co.za.

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