Sexual Dysfunction in Diabetic People

August 3, 2019
Sexual dysfunction is very common in people with diabetes. It's often caused by damage to their nerves and small blood vessels, which makes them more likely to develop sexual problems.

Sexual dysfunction in diabetic people happens often. Typically, it affects both men and women equally. This is because the blood glucose level peaks that occur when you have diabetes directly affect your nerves and blood vessels. As a consequence, some complications often manifest in your genital area.

This is mainly because the body’s response to sexual stimuli is connected to the nervous and circulatory systems. Read more about sexual dysfunction in diabetic men and women in this article.

Sexual Dysfunction in Diabetic Men

Erectile Dysfunction

A concerned man with a frustrated woman behind.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to decreased sensitivity and sexual dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual problem to develop in diabetic men. It involves the permanent and repeated inability to achieve an erection after sexual stimulation. This is present in about half of men between the ages of 40 and 70, regardless of them being diabetic or not.

there are some structures called corpora cavernosa in the upper part of the penis above the urethra. They relax to allow the blood to enter upon sexual stimulation. Then, the penis expands and an erection follows. However, any alteration in the parts involved in this process can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes influences the development of this sexual dysfunction in various ways:

  • It impairs the circulation of blood flow to the genitals since it blocks the arteries.
  • Thus, it alters the nerves and sensitivity of the penis.

A diabetic person should inform their doctor about these kinds of problems so the doctor can prescribe treatment. They may prescribe medication.

However, most of the time, the best corrective measure is to remain in control of your blood sugar levels. This alone will prevent damage to your nerves and blood vessels.

Read more: Drugs and Erectile Dysfunction: Is There a Relationship?

Sexual Dysfunction in Diabetic Women

Female sexuality is much less studied than male sexuality. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough studies to confirm that diabetic women are more likely to develop sexual dysfunctions.

However, the problems we are going to mention may have to do with damage to the nerves and blood vessels.

1. Insufficient Lubrication is a Form of Sexual Dysfunction

A woman covering her genitals.
When a woman has diabetes, there may be frequent lack of lubrication. It’s hard to feel any pleasure during sexual intercourse without this.

Insufficient lubrication of the genital area along with a lack of vaginal expansion is the most common sexual dysfunction among diabetic women. This leads to unreadiness for sex, since penetration without lubrication only causes pain and irritation.

This kind of sexual dysfunction may have something to do with diabetes. High blood sugar levels do lead to dehydration and therefore vaginal dryness. Therefore, they may cause insufficient lubrication.

2. Decreased Libido

Sexual desire is the main sexual response, which leads to arousal and subsequent orgasm. Therefore, its absence makes it impossible to develop a satisfactory sexual relationship.

Hyperglycemia is often responsible for the severe fatigue and decrease in the libido of a diabetic woman.

3. Vaginismus

A seemingly frustrated woman due to sexual dysfunction.

A lack of lubrication together with hypersensitivity can make sexual intercourse painful and therefore uncomfortable.

Vaginismus is distinct because of the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. They cause total or partial closure of a vagina. Thus, vaginismus doesn’t allow for penetration because it’s painful.

In most cases, this is mainly due to a lack of lubrication. However, it may also originate in the increased vaginal sensitivity. This, in turn, may be the result of sensory neuropathy.

Read more: How to Treat Female Anorgasmia

4. Anorgasmia

Anorgasmia is the inability to reach orgasm after proper sexual stimulation.

Diabetes is not a direct cause of this sexual dysfunction. However, it’s related to the lack of desire and lubrication. Both situations will give rise to dissatisfaction or even pain during sex. This makes it impossible to reach an orgasm.

In most of the aforementioned cases, hyperglycemia also increases your predisposition to acquire vaginal infections. These produce abnormal secretions, as well as pain, itching, and hypersensitivity in the vaginal area. Of course, it also makes sex highly uncomfortable.

  • Hatzimouratidis, K., & Hatzichristou, D. (2009). Erectile dysfunction and diabetes mellitus. Insulin. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1557-0843(09)80020-1
  • Rozhivanov, R. V., Melnichenko, G. A., Suntsov, Y. I., & Kalinchenko, S. Y. (2006). Erectile dysfunction in patients with diabetes mellitus. Endokrinologya.
  • Clayton, A. H., & Valladares Juarez, E. M. (2017). Female Sexual Dysfunction. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2017.01.004