Wil Dubois

Diabetes isn't very loving, but here at the 'Mine, we do our best to support you! Welcome to another edition of our weekly advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois.

With Valentine's Day coming at us next week, Wil takes up a question on diabetes, and um... intimate moments. And what if you're not the only PWD in the house and bed? Yup, here's all the advice you might need in your diabetic household as we approach the most romance-laden day of the year.

{Need help navigating life with diabetes? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}


Vicki, type 1 from New Jersey, writes: Happy impending Valentine's Day, Wil! The season of romance sent my brain down an odd path recently and I suspect you may be the most qualified person to answer my questions, or if not, at least I know you'll be honest and blunt! I'm 23 years old and single. I've had type 1 for five years and I'm wondering what it would be like to be in a romantic relationship with another type 1. Do you think that would be a good thing or a bad thing? And of course thinking about romance ultimately leads to thinking about, well, you know. So I was wondering what would happen if two people on insulin pumps were intimate... would they end up tied up like 50 Shades of Grey?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Happy impending V-Day right back at you, Vicki! Let's do romance first, then sex. Ummm... I mean as the order of subjects of the post, not you and me personally.

Now, as most of you probably know, I'm in a two-diabetic marriage myself, but I'm type 1 and my wife is type 2. So that's very different from what you're asking about. Plus, when we were married 25 years ago, we were both "sugar-normals." The diabetes came later, first mine, then hers. In sickness and in health, right?

So we learned about diabetes together. I think that was a lot easier than trying to teach existing diabetes to a potential mate. That does sound scary, so on the surface, hooking up with one of our own kind could save a lot of trouble. On a first date you could both bolus insulin and test blood sugar stress-free. But long-term, would a pair of type 1s be a full house, or too damn much diabetes?

love diabetes

I can see a number of good things that could come out of a pairing of type 1s, but I can also see plenty of disadvantages. Let me run through a few thoughts: Certainly, there would be mutual motivation to support each others' efforts at control, but that could lead to some unexpected dynamics, too. For instance, how would you feel if, even though you tried harder, that sonofabitch got a better A1C?

Of course, you could share gear and supplies, test each other's blood sugar (either creepy or sweet, depending on how you look at it), and bring each other the right amount of glucose for lows—no questions asked, no recriminations. There would be an emotional advantage in both partners understanding the dynamics of blood sugar and mood, too. And there wouldn't be any of the "you'll never understand what this is like" fights. On the down side, can you imagine the fireworks if you both went to the never-ending-pasta-bowl and had simultaneous hyperglycemic excursions? OMG, that would be an epic fight!

Speaking of food, probably the best thing that could come out of being in a relationship with another type 1 is that you both need to eat the same way. Any of us in "mixed marriages" can attest to the fact that different food needs can be one of the biggest areas of contention, stress, anger, jealously, and domestic discord in a relationship.

Of course, pairs of type 1s worry about giving the disease to their children. For what it's worth, the genetic studies don't support the worry, but I can understand it. Still, who better to raise a type 1 kiddo than a pair of type 1 parents? Not that "sugar-normals" can't or don't learn, because they do and they're awesome... it's just like the dating example, where you don't have to begin from scratch because you both have a shared frame of reference from the start.

Now we'd better move on to sex. Sex with an insulin pump, that is. Well, not with the pump, that would be just... wrong. I meant to say sex while wearing an insulin pump.

Of course, my wife doesn't wear a pump, so if I'd ever had sex with another pumper, I sure as hell wouldn't admit to it her. And as a gentleman doesn't kiss and tell, I can't tell you about the ménage à trois between my wife, my insulin pump, and myself.

What's that? Oh. Right. Amy says I'm no gentleman. So I guess I'm free to kiss and tell after all. [And yes, I asked my wife to read and "approve" this post first. I may not be a gentleman, but I'm no cad, either!]

The first pump to share our marriage bed was the Cozmo. Being a philandering bastard, over the years, I've also brought home an OmniPod, two different models of Med-T pumps, an Animas, a t:slim, and a Snap. Oh my. I didn't realize until now how much I got around.

Anyway, my experience when it comes to intimate entanglements is that the pump really doesn't get much in the way. Not physically, that is. But for my wife and me, the mechanics of the pump and the Kama Sutra were the least of our problems. When I first brought the Cozmo into the bedroom, it was the biggest intimacy killer ever. Being plugged into a pump unplugged our sex life in a big way.

Why? Well, part of it was that my wife was terrified she'd damage it, or pull out an infusion set and kill me. That was the effect on her brain. There was also an effect on her heart. I was bringing a big-time reminder of a new, dangerous and frightening illness into our bedroom.

Not exactly an aphrodisiac.

She hardly touched me for, well, it felt like years. In fact, it was years before we were really able to discuss what the issues were and get it sorted out. And I don't wear a pump anymore.

Anyway, so pumps don't get in the way physicHeart Candleally as much as you'd think. Getting tied up or tangled up in pump tubing during sex is pretty low-risk, and, of course, you have the option of disconnecting the pump during foreplay and taking a post-coitus correction bolus after the action is over. (Note: You won't see it in their corporate marketing materials, but if you wear the tubeless OmniPod pump, there's nothing to tangle and it doesn't get in the way at all. The only risk in OmniSex is getting the pod knocked or torn off during wild-monkey sex, or giving your partner a black eye with it. )

Actually, the biggest risk with pumps and sex is scratching your partner with your infusion set hub if you've disconnected. Yep. That's why they give you that cap cover with each set. The one you thought was a shower cover. Nope. It's an intimacy cap. Think of it as a condom for your infusion set. It will cover all the sharp edges and protect your partner's skin from any scratches you weren't intent on leaving behind.

Now, thinking about your naughty 50 Shades visions, hmmm.... Well, even though one-pump sex is pretty free of entanglements, I could see how two tubed pumps could get tangled up the way my stupid medic alert chains do when I throw them all in the same drawer together. But I don't recall reading any stories about that happening, so I reached out to a few of my more, ah, direct colleagues—both male and female—to see what they had experienced.

Surprisingly few had any pump-on-pump action to report. Of the ones that did, none reported getting a pair of pumps tangled, but one, who asked for her name to be withheld (for obvious reasons you'll soon see), thought that now that we brought it up, it would be a great idea to use discarded infusion set tubing as a bondage accessory.

Yes, there are times I regret asking certain people certain questions. TMI. Now every time I see her in the future I'll picture her naked and tied up by her diabetes, so to speak.

Oh well. Happy impending VD everyone. Uh. As in Valentine's Day, not venereal disease. But if anyone wants to know about venereal disease and diabetes, you know who to ask.


This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.


Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.