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Sex and diabetes in men

diabetes and sex in a man

Just as advancing age can, diabetes can interfere with a man's sex life and lead to reduced performance. Fortunately, the repercussions of diabetes on male sexuality are not inevitable and solutions do exist.

Side effects of diabetes on male sexual health

Numerous studies show that diabetes leads to problems with sexual activity. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to experience discomfort in their sex life compared to people without diabetes.

These sexual disorders appear more frequently in the male population and, more commonly still, among people prone to complications. It is therefore estimated that about one in two men with diabetes suffer from problems with their sex life.

Impact of diabetes on a man's sex life

Sexual performance in men can diminish with diabetes and with age. These inconveniences can result in erectile dysfunction or libido issues. It is estimated that they develop 10 to 15 years earlier than for people without diabetes, due to a combination of factors.

Causes may initially be psychological in nature: low morale, depression and lack of self-confidence. In fact, 35% of men with diabetes fear hypoglycaemia during intercourse and, in practice, 40% have experienced it.

Diabetes also has a direct effect on the functioning of the erectile system in 50% of all men with diabetes. By way of comparison, around 22 % of men without diabetes are affected by erectile disorder.

From a physiological point of view, certain complications (mainly neuropathies and vascular disorders) of diabetes induce impotence. Problems with body weight and levels of sex hormones in the blood can also affect intimacy, sexuality and the male reproductive system, notably through reductions in testosterone levels.

Prevention and treatment

To avoid long term issues, the need for early and comprehensive diabetes management is imperative.

To help prevent complications, regular monitoring of blood glucose levels and adherence to lifestyle and diet recommendations (quality sleep, learning how to manage stressful situations, regular physical activity, a healthy diet and moderate alcohol consumption) is important in order to minimise the consequences of diabetes on a person’s sex life.

These recommendations will help maintain a healthy and enjoyable sex life, and also overall health and well-being.

Intimacy and wearing an insulin pump

If you wear an insulin pump, there is no right or wrong answer to the question ‘what should I do with my pump during sex?’

Just as you do when getting in the shower, you can take your insulin pump off before having sex. It is recommended that you’re not disconnected from the pump for longer than one hour. If preferred, you can leave the pump on but take care to not accidentally damage or disconnect the tubing. Be mindful to monitor your blood glucose levels after sex. 

Sources

  1. Bak E, Marcisz C, Krzeminska S, Dobrzyn-Matusiak D, Foltyn A, Drosdzol-Cop A. Does Type 1 Diabetes Modify Sexuality and Mood of Women and Men? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 May 11;15(5):958.
  2. Palmer MR, Holt SK, Sarma AV, Dunn RL, Hotaling JM, Cleary PA, Braffett BH, Martin C, Herman WH, Jacobson AM, Wessells H; Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Research Group. Longitudinal Patterns of Occurrence and Remission of Erectile Dysfunction in Men With Type 1 Diabetes. J Sex Med. 2017 Oct;14(10):1187-1194.
  3. Penson DF, Wessells H, Cleary P, Rutledge BN; Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Research Group. Sexual dysfunction and symptom impact in men with long-standing type 1 diabetes in the DCCT/EDIC cohort. J Sex Med. 2009 Jul;6(7):1969-78.
  4. Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, Esposito K. Diabetes and sexual dysfunction: current perspectives. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2014 Mar 6;7:95-105.
  5. Kamenov ZA. A comprehensive review of erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2015 Mar;123(3):141-58.
  6. Tannus LR, Drummond KR, Clemente EL, da Matta Mde F, Gomes MB; Brazilian Type 1 Diabetes Study Group (BrazDiab1SG). Predictors of cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy in patients with type 1 diabetes. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2014 Nov 25;5:191.
  7. Hylmarova S, Stechova K, Pavlinkova G, Peknicova J, Macek M, Kvapil M. The impact of type 1 diabetes mellitus on male sexual functions and sex hormone levels. Endocr J. 2020 Jan 28;67(1):59-71.

About Making Diabetes Easier

Air Liquide Healthcare UK is committed to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Our healthcare teams provide patients and their loved ones with education, support and personalisation of care.

Our mission? #makingdiabeteseasier

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