If you’re having problems with sex, it could be due to diabetes, whether you realize you have the disease or not. The Sept. 2010 issue of Diabetes Care reports that many middle-aged and older men and women are sexually active, despite having the disease. Frequency of sex was comparable to that of people without diabetes.
Nevertheless, having diabetes still has a negative affect on sex life for many patients. Lack of interest in sex, and impotence, is more common in men with diabetes than men without. Both genders reported, for the study, a higher frequency of orgasm problems.
“Patients and doctors need to know that most middle age and older adults with partners are still sexually active despite their diabetes,” explained the study’s lead author, Stacy Lindau, MD, associate professor of OB/GYN and of medicine at the University of Chicago.
But Dr. Lindau also adds, “However, many people with diabetes have sexual problems that are not being addressed.” And those problems are: About half the women in the study did not have a partner. The inference is that women with the disease are much less likely than healthy women to have a partner. Diabetic women with partners, though, were more likely than men to shy away from sex due to a problem, and were also less likely to discuss a problem with sex with doctors, than were men.
The survey involved nearly 2,000 people and was part of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. Forty-seven percent of the men had diabetes, but only 25 percent knew it, and the remaining 22 percent didn’t. Nearly 40 percent of the women had the illness, with about half diagnosed and half not diagnosed.
So now that we know that having diabetes creates problems with sex life for many, are these sex problems purely physical in origin, or mental? Sex problems were revealed in study subjects with diabetes who did not know they had the disorder. This points to a purely physical cause of the sex problems.
However, Lindau explained that other sex problems like impotence and lack of sexual desire in men with diabetes, hints to a psychological cause: Knowing one has this condition creates a mental burden due to the stigma of having this disease. The biggest problem with sex, that’s apparently related to diabetes, is the reduced sex drive: a psychological after-effect.
“Failure to recognize and address sexual issues among middle-age and older adults with diabetes may impair quality of life and adaptation to the disease,” explains Marshall Chin, MD, senior author of this study and professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. He adds: “Sexual problems are common in patients with diabetes, and many patients are not discussing these issues with their physicians.”
So what does all of this mean? If you don’t want any sex problems, the preventing diabetes will go a long way in helping you achieve your goal of a healthy sex life. How do you prevent this illness?
There is no known method that’s 100 percent effective at preventing it 100 percent of the time. I’m a certified personal trainer. A healthy lifestyle has a profound effect on whether or not a person will develop type 2 diabetes; type 2 is very strongly linked to being overweight (especially obese), lack of structured exercise, and eating too many sugary and processed foods, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. It’s also linked to averaging less than seven hours of sleep a night.