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Diabetes and Women's Health: Addressing Intimacy Concerns

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD, CPT
November 5, 2023
December 7, 2023

Did you know that women with diabetes experience sexual dysfunction at a much higher rate, more than twice as often as those without diabetes? In fact, a recent meta-analysis found that nearly 70 percent of women with diabetes face this challenge. Despite being a common issue, discussions about women's sexual health are often avoided in many societies. In this article, we'll bring attention to the impact of diabetes on women's sexual health and ways to manage it.

Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction is a broad term encompassing several issues, including reduced sexual desire, arousal difficulties, and pain during intercourse. Women with diabetes may be more susceptible to these concerns due to hormonal imbalances, nerve damage, and circulation problems related to the condition.

Managing Sexual Dysfunction:

  • Consult with a healthcare provider to discuss treatment options, which may include medications, hormone therapy, or pelvic floor exercises.
  • Maintain optimal blood sugar control through medication, diet, and exercise, as it can positively impact sexual function.
  • Communicate openly with your partner to ensure understanding and support.

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common concern among women with diabetes, often caused by reduced blood flow to the genital area and altered hormonal levels. It can lead to discomfort and pain during intercourse.

Managing Vaginal Dryness:

  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants to enhance comfort and reduce friction during sexual activity.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider to discuss hormone replacement therapy options to alleviate dryness.
  • Prioritize good blood sugar control and overall health to improve vaginal health.

Infections and UTIs

Women with diabetes are more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections due to elevated blood sugar levels which can create an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth. These infections can in turn lead to discomfort and impact sexual health.

Managing Infections and UTIs:

  • Maintain excellent blood sugar control to reduce the risk of infections.
  • Practice good hygiene, particularly in the genital area, and urinate before and after sexual activity to flush out bacteria.
  • Consult with a healthcare provider for prompt diagnosis and treatment of infections.

Decreased Libido

Some women with diabetes experience a decrease in sexual desire or libido, which can result from hormonal imbalances, stress, or anxiety related to managing diabetes.

Managing Decreased Libido:

  • Engage in open and honest communication with your partner about changes in sexual desire.
  • Seek counseling or therapy to address any underlying psychological factors affecting your libido.
  • Discuss hormone therapy options with a healthcare provider if necessary.

Pregnancy and Fertility Concerns

For women with diabetes who wish to become pregnant, there are additional considerations and potential risks involved such as the need for careful blood sugar management and the risk of birth defects.

Managing Pregnancy and Fertility Concerns:

  • Consult with a healthcare provider before trying to conceive to ensure your diabetes is well-controlled.
  • Collaborate closely with your medical team to manage your blood sugar levels throughout pregnancy.
  • Explore assisted reproductive technologies if fertility challenges arise.


Diabetes can present various challenges to a woman's sexual health and intimacy. However, with proper management, communication, and support, many of these concerns can be effectively addressed. Prioritizing sexual well-being as part of overall health and quality of life is crucial for women with diabetes. Seek guidance from healthcare providers, maintain good blood sugar control, and foster open communication with partners to enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying intimate life despite diabetes. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, talk to your healthcare provider whenever you need.

Proofread by: Laura Hu

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