Diabetes, Sexual, & Bladder Problems
Sexual problems and bladder problems are common as people age, but diabetes can make these problems worse. You or your partner may have trouble having or enjoying sex. Or, you'll leak urine or have trouble emptying your bladder normally.
Blood vessels and nerves can be damaged by the effects of high blood glucose, also called blood sugar. This damage can lead to sexual and bladder problems. Keeping your blood glucose levels in your target range is an important way to prevent damage to your blood vessels and nerves.
Work together with your health care team to assist prevent or treat sexual and bladder problems. These problems may be signs that you need to manage your diabetes in a different way. Remember, a healthy sex life and a healthy bladder can improve your quality of life, so take action now if you have concerns.
Can sexual and bladder problems be symptoms of diabetes?
Yes. Changes in sexual function or bladder habits may be a sign that you have diabetes. Nerve damage caused by diabetes, also called diabetic neuropathy, can damage parts of your body—like your genitals or tract . For example, men with diabetes may develop erectile dysfunction (ED) 10 to 15 years earlier than men without diabetes.1
Talk with a health care professional if you've got any symptoms of diabetes, including sexual and bladder problems.
What makes me more likely to develop sexual or bladder problems?
You’re more likely to develop sexual or bladder problems if you have diabetes and :
Ø have high blood glucose that is not well controlled, also called high blood sugar
Ø have nerve damage, also called neuropathy
Ø have high blood pressure that is not treated
Ø have high cholesterol that is not treated
Ø are are overweight or have obesity
Ø are not physically active
Ø are taking certain medicines
Ø drink too many alcoholic drinks
What sexual problems can men with diabetes have?
Changes in your blood vessels, nerves, hormones, and emotional health during diabetes may make it more difficult for you to have satisfactory sex. Diabetes and its related challenges also may make it harder for you to have a child.
You have ED if you’re unable to get or keep an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. More than half men with diabetes will get ED. Men who have diabetes are more than 3 times more likely to develop ED than men who do not have diabetes.1 Good diabetes management may help prevent and treat ED caused by nerve damage and circulation problems. A doctor can help treat ED with medicine or a change in your diabetes care plan.
Rarely, diabetes can cause retrograde ejaculation NIH external link, which is when part or all of your semen goes into your bladder instead of out of your penis during ejaculation. During retrograde ejaculation, semen enters your bladder, mixes with urine, and is safely urinated out. A urine sample after ejaculation can show if you have retrograde ejaculation. Some men with retrograde ejaculation may not ejaculate at all.
Men with diabetes are more likely to have Peyronie’s disease, also called penile curvature, than men who don’t have diabetes.3 Men with Peyronie’s disease have scar tissue, called a plaque, in the penis, making it curve when erect. Curves in the penis can make sexual intercourse painful or difficult. Some men with Peyronie’s disease may have ED.
What sexual problems can women with diabetes have?
Low concupiscence and response, vaginal dryness, and painful sex are often caused by nerve damage, reduced blood flow to the genitals, and hormonal changes. Other conditions can cause these problems, too, including menopause External link. If you notice a change in your sex life, talk with your health care team. A physical exam, which will include a pelvic exam, and blood and urine tests may help your doctor find the cause of your problems.
Low sexual desire and response
Low sexual desire and sexual response can include
Ø being unable to become or stay aroused
Ø not having enough vaginal lubrication
Ø having little to no feeling in your genitals
Ø being unable to have an orgasm or rarely having one
How am i able to prevent and treat my sexual or bladder problems?
Managing your diabetes can help prevent nerve damage and other diabetes problems that can lead to sexual and bladder problems. With your health care team, you can help prevent and treat your sexual or bladder control problems by
Ø keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels close to your target numbers
Ø being physically active
Ø keeping a healthy weight
Ø quitting smoking External link if you smoke
Ø getting help NIH external link for any emotional or psychological problems
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