How to Deal with Women Sexual Dysfunctions Caused by Diabetes


Menstruation

Some diabetic women experience a rise in blood glucose two to four days before their menstrual period. This increase is due to elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone, probably because of an incompletely understood interaction between insulin and recep­tor sites on hormonal cells, which causes temporary additional in­sulin resistance. Some women, on the other hand, have a seemingly paradoxical effect: higher-than-normal estrogen levels improve insulin action and thus lower blood glucose. As soon as the flow begins, blood glucose evens out. However, Type I diabetics should tell their physicians about this, and you may need a slightly in­creased dose of insulin for these few days.

Women Sexual Dysfunctions

Other things you can do to keep you blood glucose normal during the premenstrual period include:

  • Eat at regular intervals to prevent fluctuations in blood glu­cose.
  • Avoid caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, and too much carbohydrate, which can affect blood glucose levels, as well as your emotions.
  • Don’t skip your exercise sessions and even add a little extra time and effort.

Yeast Infections

High blood glucose is one of the causes of vaginal yeast in­fections, which is how many women first discover that they have diabetes. In fact, if a woman over forty, who hasn’t had a yeast in­fection since she was in her twenties, suddenly has recurring yeast infections, she should have her blood glucose checked profes­sionally.

It is inadvisable to have sexual intercourse while you are be­ing treated for a vaginal yeast infection. In the first place, you will feel so itchy from the infection and sticky from the topical creams and suppositories that you probably have no inclination to make love. But even if you did, you could transfer the infectious mi­crobes to your sex partner.

Vaginal Dryness

Two phenomena are at work here. Diabetes itself sometimes causes vaginal dryness, and the age of onset of Type II diabetes of­ten coincides with the approach or onset of menopause, which, be­cause of decreasing amounts of estrogen, almost always results in the same problem.

Luckily, it is easy to remedy. Menopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy usually find that the medication re­solves the problem. Women who do not choose hormone replace­ment can find relief from the discomfort of sexual intercourse with a variety of vaginal lubricants. Most people like Astroglide best, but you should buy several brands and experiment to see which is most pleasing to you and your sex partner. Do not use petroleum­based lubricants such as Vaseline or mineral oil or vegetable oils such as cooking oil, Crisco, or olive oil. None of these preparations are water soluble, and they will cling for days to your sensitive genital tissues. The best thing to do is go to a large well-stocked drugstore and spend some time reading the labels that specifically describe the product as a vaginal lubricant.

Menopause

Some women go through menopause with only a hot flash or two and no other symptoms, except the main one: no more men­strual periods. Others, however, are miserable for a year or two with frequent, searing hot flashes; irregular and often exception­ally heavy periods; depression; and all kinds of other unpleasant symptoms. If you are having serious menopausal problems, you should be under the care of a board-certified gynecologist who likes to care for older women (as opposed to those whose practice consists mainly of women in their childbearing years).

Even if you sail through the experience with hardly a back­ward glance, your hormones are undergoing the same changes as everyone else. Menopause is an entirely normal and natural phe­nomenon, but because your hormones have changed markedly, you are now at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteo­porosis (a disease characterized by diminution in bone mass and density, which makes you more susceptible to fractures). This is also the age at which women start having a higher incidence of breast and reproductive organ cancer. As a diabetic, you have al­ways been at increased risk of cardiovascular disease; now as a diabetic menopausal women, your risk zooms up.

For this and other reasons you may want to consider hor­mone replacement therapy (HRT): a combination of estrogen and progesterone that alleviates many of the symptoms of menopause and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, al­though no one is certain how it does this. Although the decision to take HRT is entirely yours, you should discuss the pros and cons with your gynecologist because there are some downsides: HRT may cause irregular bleeding even after your natural periods have stopped, it may make you more insulin sensitive, and there has been an incredible amount of controversy in the medical and lay press about the relationship of HRT to the risk of breast and en­dometrial cancer. However, to date there has been no definitive proof one way or the other. Be sure to tell your gynecologist that you are diabetic.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are hormones and come in three major types: monophasic, triphasic, and progesterone only. Monophasic pills contain a fixed amount of estrogen and progesterone and are taken every day of your menstrual cycle. Women whose blood glucose tends to fluctuate prior to menstruation may find that monophasic pills help even things out. Triphasic pills contain varying doses of estrogen and progesterone, which you take in se­quence throughout your cycle. They may or may not affect your blood glucose. Experience will show you how you react to them. Progesterone-only contraceptives are available in pill, injectable, or implantable form.

Short-term studies have shown that all three types are safe for most diabetic women, but there is no research on the effects of oral contraceptives over the long haul. If you smoke, are over thirty-five, have a history of cardiovascular disease, have high blood pressure, and/or have peripheral neuropathy, you should not take oral contraceptives. If you decide to take oral contracep­tives, be sure to tell your gynecologist that you are a diabetic.

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  1. How to Deal with Men’s Sexual Dysfunctions Caused by Diabetes
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  3. How to Deal with Diabetes during Pregnancy
  4. How to Deal with Diabetes with Intensive Therapy
  5. How to Prepare for Obstetrical Care with Diabetes

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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