Information for women
Women with diabetes are more likely to experience sexual problems than other women for a range of reasons. Over time, diabetes may damage the nerves and blood vessels around the vagina and clitoris. This can lead to a loss of sensation in the genital area and reduced lubrication. Genital infections such as thrush and cystitis are also more common in women with diabetes. In addition, psychological problems such as feeling low, worried or depressed may reduce interest in sex or raise fears about intimacy and sexual performance.
Women who are experiencing pain during sex, or reduced lubrication should find that using a vaginal lubricant is helpful. If using condoms, water-based lubricants only should be used (eg, KY Jelly, Durex Play).
There is no clear evidence at present that drug treatments such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis), which are used to treat sexual dysfunction in men, are a useful strategy for women with sexual problems.
If there appears to be a link between sexual problems and emotional or psychological issues, speaking to a counsellor may be a useful approach. Women with diabetes are encouraged to seek advice from their doctor or another healthcare professional if they have concerns about their sexual health.