Diabetes is what stands in between some women and sexually satisfying lives, a survey of more than 2,000 women with and without the condition found.
The reports of researchers at the University of San Francisco show that women who receive insulin treatment to manage their diabetes – a must for all type 1 diabetics and a possible treatment for some people with type 2 – were twice as likely to report dissatisfaction and difficulty achieving orgasm than women without the condition, researchers reported in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Women with diabetes who do not use insulin injections as treatment were 40 percent more likely to report a lackluster love life than women without the disease. The study did not suss out type 1 versus type 2 diabetics, but because of the average age of diabetes diagnoses, which was not noted in the study, researchers assumed most patients to have type 2.
The biggest problems for insulin-treated diabetic women are a lack of natural lubrication and difficulty reaching orgasm, two factors likely brought on by diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage that occurs due to poor blood-sugar control. Senior author Alison J. Huang, MD, MAS, of the UCSF Women’s Health Clinical Research Center mentioned in a release that this is perhaps the most common sexual side effect in women with the disease. Additional diabetic complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and renal dysfunction can also hamper a healthy sex life.
Type 2 Diabetes and Sexual Health
According to the American Diabetes Association reports, more than 12.5 million women or 10.8 percent of all women over age 20 have some type of diabetes. Researchers also said that with this staggeringly high number signifies, more needs to be done to address the sexual health of women with the disease.
“Based on this research, clinicians may want to consider assessing diabetic women for sexual problems, particularly among those taking insulin,” said lead author Kelli Copeland in a release.
There is a well-established link between diabetes and erectile dysfunction in men due to nerve damage. Diabetic nerve damage typically occurs in the hands and feet, but it can also affect sexual organs, researchers say. For women, the dryness caused by nerve damage can often be treated with a little over-the-counter lubricant. If men have problems with erectile dysfunction due to nerve damage, they should talk to their doctor or diabetes educator about treatments, which can include oral or injectable medications, penile implants, or even surgery.