Sex and diabetes – is it getting you down? 1 June 2013 Sex is a form of exercise, so it can be good for your heart and can even help produce happy hormones (endorphins). Some people may not realise that you burn calories during sex and that your muscles need to take glucose from the blood stream to replace stored glucose that has been used during this activity. This can lead to hypoglycaemia (hypos) during or after sex. Depending on how long and how intense the sex is, it may even cause hypos many hours later, for instance when you wake up the next morning. On the other hand, if you are having a hypo you may not feel that you have enough energy to enjoy sex. If you take insulin injections or certain medications for type 2 diabetes called sulphonylureas, you are at further risk of having a hypo during exercise/sex. It’s also important to know that you can also increase your risk of hypos if you’ve had alcohol. What can you do to prevent and manage hypos during or after sex? Although some people may feel that you can take the romance or spontaneity out of sex if you have to plan ahead, here are some strategies that may help prevent and manage hypos: Check your blood glucose level before sex, if you can, to make sure you are not hypo. Ideally, your BGL should be above 7.0mmol/L. If you have impaired hypo awareness ( this is where people do not have symptoms of a hypo or experience them later than they should) checking your BGL is even more important If your BGL is below 7.0mmol/L, you might eat extra carbohydrates in either liquid (e.g. juice or milk) or solid form (e.g. biscuits or yoghurt) to prevent you from having a hypo Check you BGL after sex if you can, to see by how much your BGL has dropped and whether you need extra carbohydrates. Remember the hypo might occur an hour or two later. Trial and experimentation can help you to work out how much extra carbohydrate you might need to stop you having a hypo Always have hypo food close by, so that you can treat a hypo quickly should it occur Some people may even be able to reduce insulin doses if the sex is planned. Talk to your doctor or diabetes educator for more information If you are having more than two hypos per week, whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, speak to your diabetes care team to help you prevent them.