Diabetes & sexual health A healthy sexual relationship can be an important part of your life. While most people with diabetes can lead a normal sex life, diabetes may contribute to sexual problems for both men and women. It’s important to know that you are not alone. Support is available and we are here to help. Men and diabetes The most common problem for men is erectile dysfunction. This is where men have difficulty getting aroused long enough for intercourse due to reduced blood flow and nerve damage. There are many causes, such as being tired, stressed, depressed, or drinking too much alcohol. Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by certain medications taken for high blood pressure, depression or stomach ulcers. There are many ways to treat erectile dysfunction: Tablets (Viagra, Cialis and Levitra) Prostaglandin injection into the side of the penis (Caverject) Devices such as the vacuum pump Surgery, such as penile implants. Who can help? Chat with your doctor about all the options to decide what’s best for you. Resources: Diabetes Australia in conjunction with Eli Lilly and Impotence Australia have released a publication to help you understand the impact of diabetes on erectile dysfunction. – Treat ED: Diabetes Edition Sexual & reproductive health in women Much less is known about how diabetes effects women’s sexual health. What we do know are the main sexual problems that women, with or without diabetes, deal with: Vaginal dryness A decrease in sexual desire Pain during sex Trouble having an orgasm More vaginal thrush (yeast infection). It’s still unclear whether diabetes has any impact at all. But if you’re having a hard time coming to terms with living with diabetes, you’re more likely to experience sexual problems. In most cases, keeping blood glucose levels within your target range will reduce your risk of thrush and urinary tract infection. During periods or menopause, your blood glucose levels may change. We recommend speaking with your GP or diabetes educator to adjust your treatment. Who can help? Talk to your doctor about your sexual problems in the same way you would any other medical problem. Together, you can come up with strategies that will best suit you and your lifestyle. If you have a partner, talk through the problems you’re both experiencing. Learn about the condition and what treatments are available to improve your sense of wellbeing. If you feel your relationship is strained and you would like help, get in touch with Relationships Australia.