Girl Talk: Dishing on Diabetes and Libido
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A recent study out of Belgium reported that women with type 1 diabetes have experienced some sexual difficulty. The article, published by Reuters, said that the findings also suggest depression as a key factor linked to problems with sexuality for women.
Out of 652 women with type 1 diabetes, 35 percent were classified as having sexual dysfunction. Problems reported by these women included loss of libido by 57%, problems with orgasm 51%, reduced lubrication 47%, reduced arousal 38% and pain 21%. In addition, the study noted that sexual dysfunction was linked to older women, those not being married and postmenopausal, having circulatory problems and depression. After taking into account all the various conditions that could be associated, only depression and marital status were significantly related to sexual dysfunction.
I think this study is flawed! Exactly where is the specific link to diabetes? I was expecting to read that a reaction to insulin, uneven blood sugars, or types of diabetes medications cause a drop in libido. Instead, I found multiple issues that affect ANY women's sex drive, let alone those of type 1 diabetes! Some women with type 1 diabetes suffer multiple issues that may affect sex drive, but this study noted that older women, unmarried women and depression were root causes. This study was conducted because so much research has been done on the effects of diabetes on men, and so researchers decided that they should give equal opportunity. After reading this study, I am perplexed, does diabetes actually affect libido, or are we looking at a problem that is larger then disease we have?
In another report that surveyed random men and women, specifically 13,882 women and 13,618 men in 29 countries, found women were more sexually dissatisfied than men. The statistics of women feeling depressed or dissatisfied will certainly cause a drop in libido.
If you are living with diabetes and have a low libido, what can you do?
A healthy libido certainly needs a healthy body to - shall we say - keep it up! Many studies show a healthy sex drive is good for you. Regular sex increases immunity from viruses, relieves stress, and triggers the release of chemicals to improve mood and even eases pain. All of these factors are important for people with diabetes! But how do we start to revive or maybe find a healthier sex drive?
The Journal of Sexual Medicine reviewed five studies. All of them pointed toward acupuncture and yoga as most helpful for increasing desire and reducing pain during sex. A 45-minute acupuncture session or a one-hour yoga class will leave you feeling centered and rooted in your body, calm yet fully alive and vibrant. Good benefits for you to take home to bed!
Yoga has always been a libido builder for me! My husband had a bumper sticker that read "I Love Yoga," the joke being he never attended a class, if you catch my drift. Yoga and pilates build libido by using breath and deeply engaging lower abdominal muscles. Doing yoga and/or pilates for an hour or more, brings vital blood flow to the sex organs, as well as building and maintaining pelvic floor muscles that are vital to moving and living life free of pain. But in truth, all exercise increases libido!
Men and women who live with diabetes should realize the closer you are to your target blood sugar, the better your sex drive. All the more reason to have blood sugars between 80 and 120: orgasmically excellent A1Cs!
Further, there are some foods that may help. To encourage libido, try adding pesto to your meals. I love garlic and often make pesto, but few know that pine nuts used in pesto is a source of nitric oxide, a main ingredient in drugs like Viagra. A great reason for our "pesto poisoning" once a week! Wheat germ contains lots of zinc, which is important in the production of testosterone. Other foods rich in zinc are beef, eggs and seafood, especially crustaceans: lobster, oysters, clams, mussels and even barnacles, which are popular in Spain. Coupled with a great glass of red wine for the tannins, and you'll have a nice waft of love in the air! Little did I know through healthy eating that I've been feeding our libidos for years!
Natural helpers, like Don Quai, also called "the women's herb" may help lift the mood. This natural general tonic is packed with ingredients that help increase blood flow and reduce blood clotting. While not an obvious libido builder, naturopaths recommend it because of the improvement to blood vessels that carry blood to the sex organs. If the above does do the trick, the market is "saturated" with products and your doctor and CDE are there to advise as well.
As part of my pump vacation, I have to admit the sex drive is up! In large part because of the fact that I'm not worried about taking the pump off, or trying to follow it around the bed, or having pain from the canula. Additionally, the pump and I have not been great bedfellows! I have awakened feeling pain, only to find my pump hanging over the edge of the bed. I have been raised from sleep with the pump tied around my arm, or around my neck! I move a lot in my sleep and I end up lying on the pump, which feels much like a brick. Or I have had to wake my husband to tell him to move since he is lying on the pump and tubing. There is humor in all of this for sure, and I'm grateful for the diabetes technology, but for the sexual diva, it leaves a lot to be desired!