Weird Ways Diabetes Can Affect Libido
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Additionally, around 88 million adults are prediabetic.
That means well over one-third of people in the United States are at risk for any number of diabetes' potential comorbidities, including high blood pressure, obesity and sleep apnea.
One thing's for certain, though: All conditions associated with diabetes have the potential to affect the quality of life of diabetics. And on top of all those other issues, however it manifests, diabetes can affect you in the bedroom, too, resulting in lower libido.
Here are some ways the various side effects of diabetes may affect your libido.
We all know how hard it is to make it through the day after a night of poor sleep. It's hard enough to complete daily tasks such as working and exercising after a sleepless night, let alone muster the energy for sex. It makes sense that people with sleep disorders can be prone to sexual dysfunction.
Many people with diabetes develop sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that more than 3 million have in the U.S., causing snoring, consistent pauses in breathing that could wake you up at night, and fatigue during the day. This results in rarely getting the kind of quality sleep that replenishes your body.
Poor sleep is associated with a host of health concerns in addition to a lowered libido. So if you're diabetic and your partner regularly complains about your snoring, a sleep study is probably worth looking into.
Research shows multiple links between diabetes and inflammation. Recent findings also suggest that inflammation can negatively affect arousal, particularly in women. Researchers theorize that, because sexual desire is driven by the brain, inflammatory molecules crossing the blood-brain barrier could be suppressing any desire.
According to Harvard Medical School, some of the best remedies for inflammation come from choices in our diet rather than medication. Many people with chronic inflammation choose to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. This type of diet involves limiting inflammatory foods such as soda, white bread and red meat, and adding anti-inflammatory foods such as spinach, salmon and berries to take their place.
Diabetes is associated with symptoms of depression, and it's well documented that depression can suppress your libido. Unfortunately, what can also suppress libido are the medications used to treat depression and other mental illnesses, which can become a frustrating and vicious cycle.
Thankfully, for those trying to manage their depression and their sex drive, that cycle can be circumvented with a bit of fine-tuning. If you're concerned that your medication—mental health medication or otherwise—is getting in the way of your arousal, talk to your doctor about switching to a different brand or dosage.
The side effects resulting from taking a particular medication can vary greatly from person to person, and often, the best way to find your ideal medication combination is by trial and error. Work closely with your doctor to find the best combination or dosage for you.
Help is available
A lowered libido has numerous known causes, and unfortunately, diabetes can contribute to many of them. It's important to remember that you shouldn't have to struggle with your sexual desire just because you have diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about options—be open about your symptoms and especially about how you're feeling—to better manage your diabetes-related conditions and, by proxy, your sexual health and satisfaction.