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Managing Diabetes Complications: Diabetes and Sexual Health

Diabetes can lead to difficulty with sexual performance for men and women.

Issues Affecting Men

Diabetes may cause nerve and artery damage, disrupting the blood flow needed for an erection. Men who have diabetes are 3 times more likely to experience this condition, known as erectile dysfunction or impotence.1 Experiencing erectile dysfunction is common and can be treated.

A few factors that may increase the possibility of your experiencing impotence:

  • Poorly controlled blood glucose
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol

In addition, some medications—such as blood-pressure drugs, antidepressants and stomach-ulcer medications—may have side effects that contribute to sexual dysfunction. Stress can have an impact as well.

Prevention and Treatment

Several types of treatment are available for erectile dysfunction, including oral medications, injections, suppositories and vacuum devices. If you notice any erectile dysfunction, talk with your healthcare professional right away.

Issues Affecting Women

Sexual dysfunction from diabetes can affect women as well. High blood glucose, nerve damage, depression and yeast infections are all relatively common in women with diabetes and can contribute to sexual problems.2

If you have any of the following symptoms, there is a chance you are suffering from a form of diabetes-related sexual dysfunction:

  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Discomfort during intercourse
  • More difficulty reaching orgasm

Prevention and Treatment

Start by talking with your healthcare professional, who can help you determine the best course of action. A simple solution, such as using a lubricant during sex, may work. If you are having problems in your sex life, seek help from your healthcare professional.


References: Erectile dysfunction and diabetes: take control today. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2008.

Wider, Jennifer. Diabetes Takes a Toll on the Sex Life of Many Women. Available at: Accessed November 17, 2008.


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