by Janis Roszler
Many diabetes-related complications are commonly known and openly discussed, but when it comes to sex, many people still clam up.
Discussing sexual issues with your partner and/or doctor can be awkward at first, but the benefits are well worth it. There are lots of different types of treatment options available which can positively impact not only your sex life, but your overall health as well.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Diabetes Educator Janis Roszler shares eight great tips to help you enjoy a much more fulfilling sex life!
- Take Care of Your Health
Sex is physical activity. How well do you play tennis or basketball when you are stressed, hungry or tired? To participate fully, you should be at your best. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. If you have diabetes, try to maintain your blood glucose level in a healthy range. Experts also suggest that everyone participate in “flow” activities each day. Flow activities engage you so fully that you lose track of time and feel less stressed. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of “Finding Flow,” listening to music, doing jigsaw puzzles, yoga, hiking, and other flow activities can help you reach a state of “effortless concentration and enjoyment.”
2. Limit Your Alcohol
Drinking and sex seem like the perfect pairing, but too much alcohol can make it more difficult for a man to achieve a good erection. It can also cause men and women to become less interested in sexual activity. If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association suggests that women limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day and men to a maximum of two drinks per day. One drink is equal to a 5 oz glass of wine, 12 oz beer, or 1 ½ oz distilled spirits (vodka, whiskey, gin, etc.).
3. Don’t Smoke
Both men and women need good blood circulation to achieve a healthy orgasm. Smoking makes it more difficult for blood to flow to the pelvic area. If you smoke, try to quit.
4. Use Lube
Vaginal dryness, a common diabetes and age-related issue, can cause a woman to experience pain during intercourse. Unfortunately, once that happens, she may tense up during future sexual attempts and feel additional discomfort. Keep a tube of vaginal lubricant near your bed, so you can grab it easily. Choose a fun type and incorporate it into your foreplay. Some are scented, flavored, warming, and more. If you don’t care for one, try another. If vaginal dryness continues to be a problem, ask your gynecologist for additional options.
5. Have ED? Don’t Give Up if Your Pills Fail
Contrary to what the TV ads imply, pills that treat erectile dysfunction (ED), such as Viagra, Levitra, Cialis and Stendra, don’t work for all men. As a matter of fact, they only work in half of men with diabetes. If you try ED pills and still have erection issues, don’t give up. You have many other options, including vacuum pumps, penile injections, suppositories, penile sleeves, testosterone treatments, and even implants.
6. Don’t Assume
Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Use “I” language, not “you” language, to communicate your needs, wants and preferences, inside and outside of the bedroom. “I” language shares feelings and “you” language attacks and prompts people to feel defensive. For example:
“I” language: “I feel so relaxed when you massage my feet.” “I feel worried when you don’t call.”
“You” language: “You have to stop touching me like that.” “You never hug me anymore.”
7. Take Your Time
Men are microwaves and women are crock pots. Most men get sexually aroused quickly while most women need additional time. So, try to take things slow. Lead up to intimacy with romantic texts, walks in the park, compliments and loving hugs.
8. Work on Your Relationship
Many men and women have a difficult time responding sexually when their intimate relationship is stressed. A couple’s therapist can help you and your partner communicate more effectively. Ask your health care provider or religious leader to suggest someone who can help. You can also search for a marriage and family therapist in your area.