People with diabetes are at risk for a number of complications that may affect their sex life. Most of these issues are caused by having high blood sugar levels over a period of years.

In men, this can cause nerve damage and impaired blood circulation, which can cause problems with erections, genital sensation, and orgasm. Approximately 34% to 45% of men are affected by erectile dysfunction. In women, chronic high blood sugar can cause frequent vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Nerve damage can create difficulties with bladder control. High blood pressure, which often goes along with diabetes, can contribute to arousal and orgasm problems.

Many other complications of diabetes may detract from the ability to relax and enjoy sexual activity. Pain caused by nerve damage, fatigue from dealing with the challenges of diabetes, and low energy levels caused by variable blood sugars can affect a person's mood and interest in sex. Some common medications used to treat diabetes and its complications, such as blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can cause difficulties with erection and reduce sex drive. Be sure to ask your pharmacist, physician, or primary health care provider about these and any other issues with your sex life.

There are many ways to prevent or manage issues associated with the effects of diabetes on your sex life. The most important first step is to openly communicate any problems you may be having to your family physician or primary health care provider. This will enable them to recommend the best approach for you.

The risk for erectile dysfunction in men can be reduced by keeping good control of blood sugar. Men with any level of erectile dysfunction should discuss the symptoms with their physician or primary health care provider. While the problem itself affects your overall well-being, it could also be an early sign of heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure that will need to be addressed. Medications are available that have been shown to be very effective in helping men overcome the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Treatment of issues that can affect a woman's sex life may include treatment of vaginal or urinary tract infections, treatment of urinary incontinence, and treatment of vaginal dryness with estrogen products and lubricants. In women or men, if lack of sexual desire is a consequence of depression, there are prescription medications that may help.