Got questions about life with diabetes? So do we! That’s why we offer our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D’Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois.

This week, Wil is taking on some good ol’ fashioned questions about sex and diabetes. Some pillow-talk should of course be confined to the bedroom, but when there are vital diabetes or health-related questions involved then a little public sex-talk can be a healthy thing.

btw, next month (April) happens to be Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month, so in the immortal words of Salt-N-Peppa from their 1991 song: “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby“…

{Got your own questions? Email us at}


Nikki, type 1 from Nevada, asks: Hey, Wil, are persons with diabetes more or less likely than “normal” people to get sexually transmitted diseases?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Because having diabetes raises the risk of sexual dysfunction in both men and women, you might expect that our rates of STD’s would be less. After all, you can’t catch it if your not getting it, right? But you’d be wrong. Sadly, having diabetes seems to make everything worse. Yeah, you guessed it. It turns out the “D” in STD stands for diabetes.

While I couldn’t find any “hard” statics (sorry, I couldn’t resist) the folks at Joslin say that STDs are more easily transmitted to people with diabetes. What the eff’s up with that?

Well, your best biological protection from a STD is your skin. (Being careful and selective about whom you sleep with is your best environmental protection; and wearing a condom is your best engineered protection.) But back to your skin, which is usually naked when you get a STD. Skin is really amazingly tough stuff. Uh… unless you have diabetes. In our case, our skin is often compromised. The most common skin damage with PWDs? Dry, cracked skin. A crack in your skin is an open door to an opportunistic microorganism.

Orgasm followed by organism. Nasty.

And of course, if you get sick, what do we generally know about the course of any disease within a person with diabetes? Yeah, we get it worse, and it’s harder to treat.

Sorry. D-truth hurts.

What can you do? Same as with all our other D-risks. Keep your sugar down, and keep your pants up in dubious company. Oh, right. And keep your skin healthy and use a condom. And if all that fails, get treatment right away if you suspect an STD.


Mathew, type 1 from Idaho, writes: I read online that some morons think you can catch diabetes through sex! How on earth does bullshit like this get out into the world?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: When I first read your question I naturally assumed you were either drunk or stoned (or both) when you wrote it. But then I checked. Shore ’nuff, there seem to be a lot of young people earnestly asking if they can get the big D by getting it on with one of us.

  • In this discussion, a 16-year old is freaking out thinking he’ll get diabetes from his girlfriend. He’s been doing it with her for a year now, and she just came out of the diabetes closet to him.
  • Here, a young girl knows her boyfriend has diabetes and is afraid to be intimate with him. Because, you know, you might catch it…
  • There’s some confusion over the whole insulin pump thing, like can you get diabetes by kissing a girl with a pump?
  • Some are just bluntly asking if diabetes is a STD.
  • This one brings out some interesting culture interplay in India with an arranged marriage to a D-woman.
  • People are also worried about the risks of getting diabetes by having sex with fat people. No kidding.
  • Oh, and be sure to check out my personal favorite here, which you have to read to believe.

OK, so some of these people are clearly morons, as Mathew suggested. But what I find alarming is not that the question is asked, but that it seems to be asked so often. On the bright side, most of the answers seem pretty well balanced, while sprinkled with some outrage and disbelief from the diabetes community.

But honestly folks, is the state of general diabetes awareness and health education really that low? I submit that it is. In general, I think that most people only know about diseases that affect themselves or those closest to them. Now while diabetes is at epidemic levels, stats say we type 1’s are still “only” at about 10% of the population here in the good ol’ US-of-A; and somewhere around 4 or 5% globally.

If all of us with diabetes had at least one person who loved them (sadly, not always true), we’d impact at best 20% of the population on our own shores. That still leaves 80% of the people in the dark. Eighty percent of the people believing that you get diabetes by being fat, or by eating too much candy, and that everybody with diabetes needs insulin.

So why not believe that you can catch diabetes by sleeping with someone who’s part of the epidemic? Assuming a complete state of D-ignorance, is that really such a moronic question to ask?

Now, something to think about before any of you goes off on a rant: How much do you really know about Asthma? Rheumatoid Arthritis? Lupus? Parkinson’s? Gastroesophageal reflux disease? Conjunctivitis? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Psoriasis? Diverticulitis? Gynecomastia? Osteomyelitis? Peyronie’s? Alopecia?

I’ll bet you don’t even know what some of those are, unless you or one of your loved one suffers from one of them.

Yet all of these are real problems that affect real people. And I don’t know it for a fact, but I bet they have blogs, meet-ups, and online communities. Communities no doubt screaming for people to understand their diseases and their issues. Just like us.

The fact that we know little or nothing about most of the diseases and conditions on that list doesn’t make us bad or uniformed citizens. There’s only so much you can learn.

But what does that say about our expectations that everyone else on the planet have a better understanding of our disease?

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.