Diabetes results in high blood sugar levels. Insufficient insulin production by the pancreas or ineffective utilization of the produced insulin can lead to diabetes. Prolonged elevated sugar levels in the body can lead to insulin resistance and sexual dysfunction in men. 90% of men and women aged 30-45 with diabetes keep sexual problems a secret from their doctor.
Dr Pradeep Kwatra, Senior Consultant Internal Medicine Apollo Spectra Delhi Said, Diabetes is very common affecting 9% to 12% of the male population because of lifestyle, carbohydrate-rich diet, and family history. “Increased sugar levels can harm the blood vessels and nerves. This can impede blood flow to the sexual organs, resulting in diminished sensation and difficulties in arousal. Diabetes may also induce hormonal changes affecting testosterone or estrogen levels, thereby affecting libido and the ability to become sexually aroused.
Patients taking specific medications for type 2 diabetes may experience a significant decrease in testosterone levels, as well as a decline in sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED) psychological barriers and social stigma can loss of interest in sexual activities. The management of diabetes can also take an emotional toll on people, impacting their sexual lives.
Women with diabetes are more prone to infections such as cystitis, and urinary tract infections which can also hinder their ability to engage in or enjoy sexual intercourse. I see almost 300 diabetic new patients in a month. So, almost 30% have sexual problems. 90% of men and women with diabetes do not discuss sexual health problems with their doctor. They feel they are getting old so it’s normal and they ignore it. Many men don’t want to talk about erectile dysfunction.”
Dr Kwatra Added, But I see a lot of patients going to alternative therapy which is neither proven nor beneficial. They have tried that for years together without understanding that it is related to diabetes. Then they leave it That is one of the reasons why they don’t talk about it. Speak to the healthcare provider without getting embarrassed, and get help by telling the doctor what’s going on with you. Ask about how to manage diabetes and other health issues related to it. Seek counseling as anxiety and stress can worsen the ED.”
Both men and women may have sexual dysfunction due to diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage associated with diabetes, can contribute to sexual problems. Symptoms such as numbness, pain, or decreased sensation in the genitals can occur. This can lead to difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection in men (known as erectile dysfunction or ED).
Additionally, neuropathy may interfere with orgasm or make it challenging to feel sexual stimulation. Men with diabetes have a significantly higher risk of experiencing ED compared to those without diabetes, with a threefold increase in risk. ED is defined as the persistent inability to achieve or sustain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse and can greatly impact a man’s quality of life. Age also plays a role in the causation of ED, Concluded Dr Kwatra.
Dr Kwatra Said, “Along with diabetes, other coexisting conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and depression contribute to this issue. Obesity indirectly leads to erectile dysfunction (ED). Even sleep apnea poses a risk of ED in men. Diabetes affects blood flow which may interfere with circulation reaching the sexual organs during sexual activity for men as it is crucial for achieving and sustaining an erection whereas reduced blood flow might play a role in vaginal dryness among women. Nerve impairment can occur due to elevated glucose levels, which can specifically impact the nerves located in the tip of the penis and clitoris. As a result, individuals may experience diminished sexual sensation or encounter discomfort during intercourse.”
It is imperative to seek medical advice if you encounter any such difficulties and pursue suitable treatment. Lifestyle adjustments like engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a well-balanced diet, and effectively managing blood sugar levels can address both diabetes and sexual health concerns. Men have access to medical interventions for erectile dysfunction, while women have the option of using lubricants or hormone therapy for related problems and resume an active and enjoyable sex life, Said Dr Kwatra.