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Guide to Diabetes

Sexual health and relationshipsSexual Health


We hope to address concerns and queries that you may have regarding sexual health now come that you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Sex ……………..You may feel embarrassed …but don’t its natural!


Sexual Activity

Sex is a form of exercise and can cause hypos. For most people it is a good form of exercise, therefore you need to be prepared for a drop in your blood glucose. You should make sure that you have a supply of sugar to hand such as glucose tablets or a sugary drink such as Lucozade.

Diabetes can affect your sex life. If you are having problems don’t keep them to yourself speak to you diabetes care team as there are many treatments available.


It is rare that diabetes will affect fertility however there is an increased risk of developing diabetes if other members of the family have it. Women who are overweight are more likely to be affected by a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS, which can affect fertility.


Contraceptive methods

Methods of contraception are the same for people with diabetes as for those without but some forms of pills may not be suitable for people with diabetes as with others.

If you become unexpectedly pregnant it is essential that you contact your GP or diabetes team immediately. Unplanned pregnancies can cause health concerns.

The contraceptive pill does not suit all women with diabetes and it is not advised in the following circumstances:

  • If you are older
  • If you smoke
  • If you are overweight
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If you have heart or circulation problems
  • If you have a tendency for blood clots

If you are treated with insulin it could increase your insulin requirements.

  • The low dose combined contraceptive pill may be used in the short term, but this will mean that more checks should be made on your blood glucose levels and you should have your blood pressure checked more often. Contact your diabetes team


  • The low dose progesterone only pills may be used but they are not as reliable as the combined pills.


  • The coil (intra- uterine contraceptive devises or IUD) can be used. Barrier methods i.e. caps and condoms are safe for women with diabetes.


Sexual health

Always Practice Safe Sex
Condoms are the only form of contraception that will prevent pregnancy (If used properly) and protect you from sexually transmitted disease (STD) also provide protection against AIDS.

Diabetes does not mean that you cannot consider sterilisation or vasectomy.

Sexual health men and women


As you get older there are many changes that can occur in your health and diabetes can play a part. It is important to look after your sexual health and take precautions from sexually transmitted diseases. Complications with sexual health are not limited to women but men can also experience difficulties associated with diabetes when it comes to sex, such as erectile dysfunction or impotence. 



Diabetes and Thrush 

Having diabetes can mean that you are more susceptible to thrush both men and women can suffer from thrush. If you have any concerns contact your GP or diabetes team for confidential advice.

Thrush is a common fungal infection also known as Candidosis of the mouth and the genital area. It is more common in people with diabetes, particularly when your blood glucose are at high levels and your diabetes is poorly controlled. 

Thrush on tongue In the mouth thrush appears as white patches on the tongue or inside the cheeks. It is especially common in the vagina, where it is known as thrush, but it is also found in the mouth and skin folds. On the skin the lesions are bright red with small pus containing blisters. When you have genital thrush you can experience pain, soreness and itchy around the genital area and sometimes a white discharge. Treatment is available with creams, pessary’s and or oral therapy. If you are experiencing recurrent thrush problems this may be due to poor blood glucose control or antibiotic therapy.

It is always worth discussing these problems with your diabetes team as they will be able to suggest the most appropriate treatment for you. In some more severe cases therapy will need to be continued for a longer period. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) 

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Type 2 diabetes it is normally diagnosed in adults. If you are a woman there may be many changes in life that you may have to deal with one of which is the menopause.

During the reproductive years women are protected against heart disease by the presence of the hormone oestrogen. As the menopause approaches, oestrogen production slows down and the protection it provides against heart disease and brittle bones (osteoporosis) is reduced. Hormone Replacement Therapy HRT replaces the oestrogen and so reduces the risks.

HRT can be offered to women with diabetes.
Ask you doctor or diabetes team for advice if you are considering taking HRT.

Remember that you will need to check your blood glucose more carefully. If you are treated with insulin or tablets your dose may need adjusting. 

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