Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: is Diabetes Sexy?

To go ahead and answer that question succinctly- yes. (More on that later).

I’ve talked- well written- about dating and diabetes, periods, PCOS and endometriosis, and other odds and ends when it relates to my diabetes.

I’ve talked about sex and diabetes with friends in my life. Now, I’m writing about it and going outside of my inner circle to talk about it. SCARY. 

A little delayed, but here’s the next post in Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: The Series.

All about- Sex and Diabetes!

Possible Disclaimer? Adult Content ahead! (Well maybe more the sitcoms where you aren’t sure about it? I’ll say it’s around TV-14 and PG-13- but hey- I don’t make the calls on how things go into this boxes). I am also not a medical provider, please consult with them!

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Nothing like another topic in diabetes that many might call taboo even though we live in an often over-sexualized world… or might not think this topic is “important enough” to talk about or look into- we only care about a1c’s, right? (if you didn’t sense the sarcasm- it’s there.) I’ve been lucky enough to have providers I can ask frank questions, friends to compare notes with, and diabadass women who have already been there and offered words of wisdom (thank you by the way!) This has all helped me navigate these sometimes already confusing waters before you even throw diabetes into the mix. 

However- even though we’re told not to- I consulted “Dr. Google”. Sometimes these searches fascinate, disturb, surprise, or upset me. Overall, I was of course- pretty disappointed with what turned up- at this point… am I even surprised?

Well…

WebMd wanted to give me better sex with diabetes?

  • Um. Really?
  • It’s as easy as that?
  • These are good tips and all but that doesn’t just automatically mean better sex. In my mind, I’d come here not with initial questions or concerns, but with more specific things that I’m curious about or need help with. In all honesty, it was the best thing I found that wasn’t the result of a blogger.
  • There were some things I nodded my head in agreement to or looked over to my cats with a puzzled expression.

 

Diabetes can impact sex, but it doesn’t have to ruin it.

For those of you in the back or covering your ears because I should be a proper lady and not talk about this-

(consensual) sex with diabetes is possible.

It might be a one night stand, a long term and serious relationship, the first time at all or the first time in a while- everyone is in a different place and I promise- they aren’t staying put. Diabetes doesn’t have to stop any of this- it might deter it or delay it- but doesn’t have to stop. Everyone is different- their thoughts, reactions, and how sex and diabetes come together.

So here are some things I’d like to get off my chest:

Lubricant is my friend! Dryness.. Yeah. It’s a thing (no really, it is. In general, but diabetes adds another layer). Dryness. An uncomfortable thing. A thing that might make you confused or wonder WTF is going on? Since it’s not talked about enough. 

I have lost A LOT of pumpsites. (yes- what you are thinking… they got ripped out in the moment. But guess what? I just pushed it to the side and didn’t let it ruin the moment for me.) I haven’t lost a lot of sensors though. I was told that it’s easier to tell/feel the sensor than the pumpsite so it’s easier to be aware and not yank it off. 

Where’s your insulin pump? If you put your pump in bra… don’t forget it’s there. It’s a weird surprise to be found if you haven’t shared you have diabetes. Yes. This has happened to me. Also. I wouldn’t recommend just disconnecting and throwing it to the side- the search for it can be a pain.

Putting on a grif grip even a few hours before can be tricky– and it doesn’t usually stay on well (especially the cute ones). I’ve almost lost sensors because I thought I was being good and prepared, but I was cutting it too close. 

It’s okay to talk as little or as much as you want to about your diabetes. I would however at least cover the safety basics. Sometimes I explain a lot or sometimes barely anything at all, sometimes right away or sometimes delayed. It all depends.

Highs completely kill the mood for me. Depending on how my symptoms are currently deciding to present themselves- it can be even more so. But I have some friends that it doesn’t even phase them. Sometimes they use sex to help bring them down. (I wish…)

Lows. Yeah. They’re a thing. But for me, it’s more about the mental health side of things with sex that make me go low. Not necessarily that it can be considered exercise. I might start trending down, but I’m actually relatively active on a daily basis (most of my commute to work is walking, etc.). For me? The key is to also treat lows or a trending low with some protein. 

This isn’t fun at all. Yeast infections. With diabetes- more prone to them. Having sex- more prone to them. (In general- I’m more prone to them). So it all adds up to a higher chance. Especially if it’s summer time (plus many other things like stress, period, sickness, medications, etc.). Make your life easier- don’t sit in sweaty clothes and go to the bathroom right after sex. 

Something I have learned about myself, I would rather have a CGM on for sex than anything else including working out.

Navigating a pump- tubing (or not)- can be hard. And in all honesty, I’m less concerned about the tubing- it’s about not losing my pumpsite! Disconnecting helps to prevent a possible low for me (plus, I’m already on POLI).

If for whatever (valid) reason, I’m feeling more uncomfortable but still interested. Maybe I’m noticing the marks left by diabetes or that I’m attached to something- who knows! Lights off are my friend.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t be ashamed of lubricant. Don’t let dryness cause pain.
  • As a female… time, communication, and knowing what you like works wonders. It makes for a better experience for everyone. 
  • Have spares around- sensors and pumpsites.
  • Get comfortable with yourself. All parts.
  • If you’re not feeling it (or feeling self-conscious), that’s okay. Don’t force it.
  • Be aware of external factors- not just the diabetes.
  • Have low supplies- fast and long acting!
  • BG impact- big part of all of this. Depending on your fitness level, treat it like exercise. It all depends on so many factors- it’s not one size fits all. Maybe just disconnecting your pump is enough. Maybe you need to do something beforehand so you don’t go low. How well do you know the person? What did you eat before hand? Maybe it was quick sex before work in the AM, maybe there was a long bit of foreplay before, maybe you had an orgasm- maybe you didn’t (gasp- did you fake it?). This all comes into play with the impact on BG. 
  • Be prepared- and no- not ruin the moment kind of thing- you can be spontaneous- but overall if you’re always prepared- you’re prepared for spontaneity, right? 
  • Try to relax. (I know, I know. Me saying this….)
  • Get help if you need it. Talking to your doctor about your feelings or issues can be helpful- maybe there is something else going- maybe therapy can help? 
  • If your BG is off, you might need to wait a bit or say “babe, next time”.
  • We get the complications talks all the time… I know… well… sex is another thing to keep in mind.

And if you’re talking to or have a partner that isn’t understanding about what comes with diabetes to make sex possible and enjoyable (including but not limited to this list)… honestly… BYE.

 

So back to my question-

Is diabetes sexy?

I immediately said yes- in the empowerment sense. In the don’t be ashamed sense. In the own it sense. In the be in charge of your sexuality sense. 

But like many other things- it’s more complicated than that.

There’s something about a partner taking into account where your sites are to avoid. Something about them watching me put in a new site if mine gets ripped out. In that moment (or those moments), diabetes can be sexy.

My BG’s might be all over the place. A shot or a pumpsite left a really nasty mark. All of the sudden the weight of the medical alert bracelet on my wrist feels too heavy. There must be a spotlight on my CGM or pump so it’s the only thing anyone will notice. This feeling that I am attached to these things – it doesn’t feel attractive. I might feel more self-conscious about everything. I might not. That’s a moment when diabetes is not sexy.

Working on getting past things and feeling more attractive diabetes and all- on my own- and not relying on a partner to do that. That’s working to make diabetes sexy for me. Those moments and how far I’ve come, that makes diabetes sexy. 

All of the sounds with diabetes. The CGM notification, the low insulin alerts, etc. Those sounds do not help diabetes remain sexy. 

The need to pause for a juicebox- feels like it could ruin the moment- but if there’s a good laugh… Can’t diabetes still be sexy? It can be. 

If it doesn’t work with someone… because of something to do with the diabetes… diabetes doesn’t feel sexy at all. 

Maybe the diabetes isn’t on my mind or barely on my radar. Even then, that’s when diabetes can be sexy.

Diabetes can be sexy? 

Yes.

No.

It depends. 

 

Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: is Diabetes Sexy?

My goal is to be candid and honest in what I write. Not just about how to prepare because a lot of others have already covered that well. I’m just going to write what comes to mind- another plus that this is a series? I can revisit this topic. HOWEVER. If there is anything specific, I’d love to know! Contact me. Leave a comment. All of the above!

 

Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: the Series

 

 

Hey you! Yes, you!

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If you enjoyed this post, please comment and share. I’d also appreciate your feedback.

and of course-don’t forget to keep up with “There’s More to the Story” via email! (Right sidebar towards the top).

We’ll both be glad you did! -Mindy

3 thoughts on “Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: is Diabetes Sexy?

  1. Pingback: Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: The Series! | There's More to the Story: a blog about LIFE, chronic illness, and Mental Health

  2. Pingback: Dexcom G6: Preparing to Take the Plunge | There's More to the Story: a blog about LIFE, chronic illness, and Mental Health

  3. Pingback: Sex, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health: Changing it up with PCOS and Endometriosis | There's More to the Story: a blog about LIFE, chronic illness, and Mental Health

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