Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Better Sex with Diabetes


How women with diabetes can take control of their sexual health

Many women with diabetes experience sexual problems. Although research about sexual problems in women with diabetes is limited, one study found 27% of women with type 1 diabetes experienced sexual dysfunction. Another study found 18% of women with type 1 diabetes and 42% of women with type 2 diabetes experienced sexual dysfunction.

Sexual problems may include

  • decreased vaginal lubrication, resulting in vaginal dryness
  • uncomfortable or painful sexual intercourse
  • decreased or no desire for sexual activity
  • decreased or absent sexual response

Decreased or absent sexual response can include the inability to become or remain aroused, reduced or no sensation in the genital area, and the constant or occasional inability to reach orgasm.

Causes of sexual problems in women with diabetes include nerve damage, reduced blood flow to genital and vaginal tissues, and hormonal changes. Other possible causes include some medications, alcohol abuse, smoking, psychological problems such as anxiety or depression, gynecologic infections, other diseases, and conditions relating to pregnancy or menopause.

Women who experience sexual problems or notice a change in sexual response should consider talking with a health care provider. The health care provider will ask about the patient's medical history, any gynecologic conditions or infections, the type and frequency of sexual problems, medications, smoking and drinking habits, and other health conditions. The health care provider may ask whether the patient might be pregnant or has reached menopause and whether she is depressed or has recently experienced upsetting changes in her life. A physical exam and laboratory tests may also help pinpoint causes of sexual problems. The health care provider will also talk with the patient about blood glucose control.

Prescription or over-the-counter vaginal lubricants may be useful for women experiencing vaginal dryness. Techniques to treat decreased sexual response include changes in position and stimulation during sexual relations. Psychological counseling may be helpful. Kegel exercises that help strengthen the pelvic muscles may improve sexual response. Studies of drug treatments are under way.


Published on March 16, 2015. 


Source: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. June 29, 2012.

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