This is part 2 of an article series geared towards diabetes and sexual health for all the ladies in the room.
As we covered one side already for the guys. Today, we tackle the complicated connection between diabetes and sexual health in women.
SEX IS GOOD for diabetes! It can be good for your heart and blood flow, usually boosts your mood and even helps you sleep better.
HOWEVER, diabetes can sometimes be BAD for your sex-life. Or rather, it can interfere with the MECHANICS of getting busy. Furthermore, women with diabetes are 30% more likely to have challenges with sexual dysfunction. As such, we’d be remiss in our mission statement if we didn’t address this sensitive topic. So we are fearlessly diving in.
The low-down about your downtown
There are a number of reasons women with diabetes can experience issues with painful intercourse, low libido, or lack of arousal. Simple issues like diet, medication side-effects, and lifestyle issues can all play a part. Most of those situations can be easily fixed. But what can you do when none of the go-to lifestyle shifts are the cause? Once you understand the unique anatomy of your wonderland, it’s easy to see how diabetes can play a part in your sexual health. So, let’s get two main points clear:
- Diabetes affects blood vessels & nerve endings. WE KNOW…you’ve heard it before, but it’s true. That’s why you should always be on the look-out for signs of hypertension, neuropathy, retinopathy, and more. LIKEWISE, elevated blood sugars left unchecked for too long can amplify these complications.
- Your vagina is a giant muscle. Or rather, LAYERS of muscle, collagen, and elastin fibers covered in a mucosal coating. When functioning properly, your love-canal is snug enough to hold a tampon in but flexible enough to allow a baby out! Moreover, it changes with shifts in age, health, hormones, and more. Your body is truly a wonderland, ladies. High five! But those miraculous folds of muscle and collagen are kept healthy by the nerve endings and blood vessels that support them.
It’s an easy connection to see how your diabetes interferes with your cozy-coozie. The ramifications can be not only painful but predictors of underlying health concerns. As such, your sexual health is JUST as important as your overall well-being and SHOULD be discussed with your doctor.
To start, let’s talk about vaginal dryness. Having your sweet sheet-music go from WOW to OW is one of the biggest complaints in the bedroom. But that discomfort can be an indicator of circulation struggles around the muscle walls of your vajayjay or a shift in hormone levels. Addressing this could be as simple as some prescription lubricants, or maybe some attention to lab work. But don’t overlook it. Neuropathy could be rearing its ugly head.
Another common struggle is the connection between blood glucose instability and your unique eco-system. As you may know, your vagina requires a certain pH level (usually between 3.0-4.5) to maintain the optimum acidity levels that prevent overgrowth of bacteria. If your blood sugar is elevated for long periods of time, your pH can swing more alkaline and feed that opportunistic YEASTY BEASTY. Of course, overtreating a yeast infection can swing you wildly into bacterial vaginosis (or BV) which can be difficult to heal from if your BG’s are not well maintained. Resist the urge to self-treat these common nuisances with OTC options, and let your doctor guide your lady garden back to its full glory.
Vaginal changes can be a warning sign of cardiovascular disease or other underlying conditions. A quick exam can address any comorbidities like circulation or nerve trouble. A few labs can check blood levels like estrogen, cholesterol, and liver function; all of which can be contributors. Beyond those basics, your doctor can discuss lifestyle changes that can improve sexual libido like giving up smoking and/or exercising to help improve blood flow. If your doctor thinks medication side-effects are contributing, a simple change in prescriptions can have you happily dancing the bedroom tango sooner rather than later.
While it can sometimes feel awkward to discuss your sexual health with your medical provider, please know that like any other part of your health, your sexual health is important and can thrive even with diabetes at play in your life. Work closely with your medical team (they are used to questions about this) and do your best to manage blood sugars. If you focus on FULL BODY health, you won’t go wrong.