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About 3.2 million people – about 6% of the population - have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK alone. Fortunately, it is a largely manageable condition; unfortunately, it can affect your sex life. As many as 50% of men and 25% of women can experience sexual problems as a result of diabetes, and the nature of the problems can vary considerably. Although the symptoms and effects of diabetes may differ depending on whether you have type 1 or 2, sexual problems can occur in either form. This may involve a loss of desire or even erectile dysfunction, but in any case, it can have a massive effect on a person.
Around 1 in 3 men with diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction and, although it is not so common as the male equivalent, women can also experience sexual dysfunction as a result of the condition. It’s as much a mental problem as a physical one and, although it is something that you should get checked out, understanding that it is normal and often treatable can be an important part of preventing a lot of unnecessary anxiety.
For some women with diabetes, the condition vaginitis – which is essentially inflammation of the vagina – can occur. The condition can be caused by a number of factors and makes sexual activity painful, returning frequently and leading to a loss of sexual stimulation. In men, diabetes can lead to more permanent problems caused by damage to the nervous system, and this nerve damage can go on to damage the erectile tissue, making it impossible for a man to achieve an erection. In some cases diabetes can even prevent males and females from achieving an orgasm, which - as most people can imagine - easily leads to anxiety and stress. Fortunately there are treatments for these conditions – prescription oral treatments such as Viagra and Cialis can improve a man’s ability to attain an erection, whilst topical creams can address dryness and irritation in the vagina.
If you are affected by diabetes then there is a risk that you won’t be able to avoid some of these conditions, and it is extremely important that you do your best to accept that. Although you may be uncomfortable with the current state of your sex life, there are normally ways for treatment that should improve the situation. Of course, managing your condition is dependant on the type of diabetes you have, but understanding and treating it with respect is a huge part of handling it. Keep your condition in mind when you eat and make lifestyle choices, and speak with medical professionals regularly about how to best cope with your condition. It is different for everyone, so it’s important that you treat your doctors and nurses with respect and follow the advice that they give you.
The effects of diabetes are varied, but there is no doubt that the condition’s impact on a person’s sex life is important – understanding how best to live with it is one of the most important parts of avoiding sexual dissatisfaction.