Impact of diabetes on sexuality

Impaired sexual function is a common complication of diabetes in both women and men.

Studies on diabetes mainly focus on erectile dysfunction in men, but there are also detrimental manifestations on the sexuality of diabetic women, linked to both mental factors, physical factors and impaired quality of life.

In addition, especially in men, sexual dysfunction is associated with an increased cardiovascular risk and reduced quality of life..

This warrants a detailed analysis of sexual dysfunction in both sexes.



Studies in women with diabetes are less successful than those in men due to several factors :

  • the lack of standardized definitions of sexual function in women,
  • the low number of well validated research methods,
  • and social taboos regarding female sexuality.

However, studies show a significantly higher frequency, in women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, of:

The prevalence of these symptoms is:

  • 21 to 57% in women with type 1 diabetes,
  • 30 to 84% in women with type 2 diabetes.

Predictors of SD in Women with Type 1 Diabetes

The main predictors of sexual dysfunction in women with type 1 diabetes are :

  • psychic state
  • the quality of the couple

Contrary to the results obtained in men, neither blood sugar control nor somatic complications of diabetes were predictors of sexual dysfunction.

Predictors of SD in Women with Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, it is primarily the duration of diabetes that is negatively correlated with all areas of sexual function.

According to studies :

  • Sexual desire disorders are associated with cardiovascular health and mental well-being,
  • Lubrication disorders are correlated with the existence or not of an associated psychiatric illness
  • Orgasm disorders are more related to age.

As with type 1 diabetes, the presence of depressive symptoms, individual perception of sexual needs, and partner factors are all important predictors of female sexual dysfunction in type 2 diabetic patients..

Although the prevalence of sexual dysfunction is high in diabetic women, no significant association was found with cardiovascular, metabolic and other risk factors (age, body mass index (BMI), menopause, use of hormone therapy. replacement) or complications of diabetes.


In conclusion, female sexual dysfunction in diabetic patients is less related to organic factors than to psychological factors..

Assessment of female sexuality should become a routine assessment in women with diabetes.



Male sexual dysfunction is a common complication of diabetes.

The mechanisms of erectile dysfunction in diabetics have been studied at length and are now well known.

In #diabetes, the increase in blood sugar leads to a “caramelization” of elastic fibers and the development of macro and micro-vascular complications that induce an alteration of erectile function by generating free oxygen radicals, leading to cell damage. oxidatives which decrease the production of nitric oxide (NO) necessary for the relaxation of cavernous smooth muscles and therefore for erection.

In addition to erectile dysfunction, which is very widespread, all sexual dysfunctions in men consist of a multidimensional construction comprising, in addition to penile erection, anomalies:

  • orgasmic and ejaculatory function
  • desire and libido.

The presence of diabetes is associated not only with erectile dysfunction but also with all aspects of sexual dysfunction, including sexual desire, ejaculatory function, sexual problems, and sexual satisfaction.

Indeed, according to studies :


Although these symptoms have a significant impact on sex, most men only see a doctor for erectile dysfunction.

It would be desirable to explore not only erection difficulties in men with diabetes, but also overall sexual function in order to properly assess this complex disorder.

The question is open whether all symptoms of sexual dysfunction should be considered as predictors of increased cardiovascular risk, or whether this is only valid for erectile dysfunction.


According to the studies, half of the women whose partner suffers from an erection problem evoke disorders of desire, pleasure and painful phenomena during intercourse.

Faced with their partner’s sexual dysfunction, these women suffer more from the lack of communication within their couple than from the consequences of the disorder itself, on their sexuality..

The attitude of a man when confronted with sexual dysfunction remains a determining factor in the assessment of sexual satisfaction and the general well-being of women.

Sometimes trouble is just the visible face of much deeper conflicts. This is why it is important to take into account a woman’s sexual history and to listen to her experience with her partner and her disorder.

Being attentive to the sexual health of the couple’s wife and treating her disorder if necessary will have an influence on the situation.

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Impact of diabetes on sexuality

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