Sugar Matters
March 27, 2009
Privacy please: Diabetes and sex

Hold up, before you either throw this paper away or hide it from your children: we will be discussing how diabetes can affect sexual organs, and I will try to use general terms in some ways so we can avoid too much detail in a public newspaper. But the information is not necessarily the most pleasant, so beware as you start reading…{{more}}For those of you expecting juicy topics, well, you may get some today, but I hold no responsibility for any gossip it may produce 🙂

Ladies first: not much attention is often paid to the role of diabetes in women’s sexual function or organs. In fact, much of the spotlight is on reproductive function because diabetes plays such a big role in complications of pregnancy. Do not be fooled, however. Diabetes does put its stamp on you even outside of pregnancy. One of the most common issues revolves around infections. Blood glucose levels that are too high are the perfect environments for all sorts of infections. It makes it easier for you to contract them, harder to treat effectively and easier for you to have very bad versions of them. What may be a simple three-day urine infection in your neighbor without diabetes could turn into a trip to the hospital with a serious infection for you instead. The most common infections in women are urine/kidney infections, bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. In women with badly controlled diabetes, this can be a constantly revolving door of getting infections, treating them and then having them come back again. I have a patient who had a yeast infection twice a month for 6 months before coming to my clinic. Her diabetes control was terrible. You can see how non-sexy this will become, and how your sex life will be affected. After many infections of certain types, the very act of intercourse can become very painful, thus putting a permanent damper on things. Romantic candlelight does not fix this problem.

Now the men: No matter how many times I say it in clinic, I am still sometimes caught off guard by a man who did not know this big, big piece of information. Listen, and listen well: badly controlled diabetes causes erectile dysfunction. Hear it? And just in case you do not know what erectile dysfunction IS, let’s say it another way: badly controlled diabetes prevents your “organ” from working the way it should, to put it delicately. This can range from your love fests being too short to not being able to “engage” at all. And yes, this has been proven to come from blood sugars that run too high. Diabetes is not the only culprit: high blood pressure and smoking also do this. Many people are quick to blame their medications, and it is true that some medications can have this side effect. But the majority of the time with badly controlled diabetes, it is NOT the medication; it is the blood sugars at work. Men can also develop urine infections and others as a result of diabetes, but the erectile function seems to be the issue that most grabs their attention. I wonder why…can you say Viagra?

So there you have it, the bad and the ugly (no good in this group). Next week we will touch on reproductive function. Until then, stay safe and healthy, Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD
[email protected]
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227