Diabetes and sex = always an intriguing topic mix. I am happy to report that today, we have one of the country's top authorities on this mix, the virtual 'Dr. Ruth' of Diabetes, Janis Roszler, to offer some practical tips for keeping it spicy in the bedroom, despite the Big D:
A Guest Post by Janet Roszler, CDE and author
When you have diabetes it follows you wherever you go, even into the bedroom. Unfortunately, it can make a mess of a beautifully-planned, romantic evening. You might have an unexpected blood sugar drop in the middle of a private moment. You may feel hesitant to undress in front of your partner because of a recent weight gain, injection scars, or marks from insulin pump infusion sets. If you are a man, you may have difficulty developing an erection or lose it too early. If you are a woman, you may struggle to get into the mood, have vaginal dryness, experience pain during intercourse, or have difficulty achieving orgasm.
According to the most current statistics, about half of you reading this have some type of diabetes-related sexual complication or will develop one at some point in the future. The good news is that there are lots of treatment options that can help you have fun again in the bedroom.
So how can you turn up the heat in your sex life?
Start with a healthy glucose level. There is a strong link between a man's A1C level and his ability to achieve and maintain a healthy erection. An erection requires good blood flow and nerve communication, both of which can be negatively affected if glucose levels remain higher than optimal for an extended period of time (months or years). We don't see this same link in women, but both sexes can try to avoid glucose swings that put them into foul moods. Remember, sexual activity is a form of exercise. Test before you begin your romantic experience and treat abnormal glucose levels as needed.
Limit your alcohol. Many folks enjoy an alcoholic beverage during a romantic evening, but watch out- alcohol may increase your interest, but can lower your ability to perform sexually and cause your blood sugar to drop quickly.
Pick up a "tube o' lube." There are lots of terrific lubricants on the market. Some tingle, warm, and even taste great. If you are a woman with vaginal dryness, lubricants can help reduce your discomfort. If you still feel pain during intercourse, ask your doctor about hormone treatments. Also, encourage your partner to take it slow. For some reason, women with diabetes often need additional time to "get in the mood." Now I'm going to get a bit racy here, but another thing you can do is to practice achieving an orgasm on your own. It's a great way to teach your body to respond more quickly to sexual touch.
Don't get discouraged. If you have erection difficulties and try the popular pills on the market, don't be surprised if they don't work for you - they don't work for many men with diabetes. A great option is the vacuum pump. It takes some time to perfect your technique, but the pump should work for almost every man. Other options include penile injections, suppositories, and implants.
Relax. Be creative. Try mutual massages, brief bubble baths and cuddling. Pick up a movie or two to launch the evening. If you or your partner don't enjoy porn, rent R-rated films that have steamy moments, such as Body Heat, 9 ½ Weeks, and Sex, Lies and Videotape.
Go for the aphrodisiacs. The brain is a powerful sex organ. If you believe that strawberries dipped in a little dark chocolate will turn you and your date on, get some (just watch the carbohydrate content). Most of all... have fun!
Janis Roszler holds the professional titles of RD, CDE, and LD/N, and is co-author of Sex and Diabetes — For Him and For Her. Um... thank you, Janis!