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When it comes to sexual relationships, teenagers with diabetes are the same as their friends of the same age. The only difference is that it is particularly important to use contraceptives to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. You should also remember that you are more prone to hypoglycaemia after having intercourse − making love can be energetic exercise!

Some people find they don’t function well sexually if their blood glucose level is high, but this can improve if the level is corrected. According to some studies sexual desire is negatively affected by long-standing diabetes, in both women and men. Other studies, however, have not found this to be true.

Impotence may be a complication of diabetes for men who have had diabetes for many years. Poor diabetes control with a high HbA1c will increase the risk of impotence. In the same way as with other complications, the problem may be halted or even reversed if they are discovered early and the diabetes treatment is changed.

Impotence commonly has a psychological (rather than a physical) cause. If you have erections in the morning, it is likely that the reasons for your impotence are psychological. If the impotence is a complication of diabetes there is a good chance of getting effective treatment. Do not hesitate to talk to your diabetes healthcare team about treatment.

Female sexuality is less affected by diabetes. Problems with vaginal discharge and fungal infections are more common in women with diabetes and may have a negative effect on sexual desire. The vaginal mucous membranes can become temporarily dry when the blood glucose is high, and this can be troublesome during intercourse. A pharmacist can advise you about suitable lubricants to relieve this. The ability to reach orgasm does not appear to be affected by diabetes. There are some medications that may improve sexual function in women with diabetes; speak with your healthcare professional for advice.

If you have diabetes, it is particularly important that your pregnancies are planned to help avoid complications for the unborn child. Tell your diabetes team or doctor if you need contraceptives and they will refer you to an appropriate professional.

 

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