This post goes alongside this one, from the female perspective.
So. This is the one that’s gonna feel a bit awks. I’m a bit worried about people I know being unable to make eye contact with me. But let’s try to be mature about it. Let’s not be embarrassed to talk about it.
Up front, I’ll put in the standard advice, that if you’re having sex, you should be doing it safely. There are loads of places to get advice about safer sex, both in terms of protecting yourself against STIs and unwanted pregnancy. This stuff is the same whether you’ve got diabetes or not.
Now that’s dispensed with, we can move on to the properly awkward stuff. Sex is great, really great, in fact even better than that. I mean, people we find attractive let us see them naked.
It shouldn’t be any different for people with diabetes than those without, and we can make that happen quite easily.
This post is all from the male perspective. It will be followed by another from the female perspective from fellow irresponsible adult and all-around dia-badass @clarentina.
In the years since my diagnosis I’ve had a few different partners ranging from long-term relationships to the more casual end of business. This isn’t a terrible attempt at bragging or anything weird, just that I’ve been dealing with sex and diabetes for a while.
The issues I’ve decided to tackle (hee hee!), I’m calling The Soft, The Crusty & The Tangle.
Lots of places tell you about hypos and sex, which are a very real thing. Think about anything you do where you can get sweaty, and the hypos you get. That. If you’re anything like me, the normal hypo symptoms aren’t the bit that you’ll notice first. There’s a much more profound and earlier symptom.
Hypos shut the whole deal down. What was once powerful and mighty, will be no more. The main thing about this is there’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of. This happens to blokes all the time, for a variety of reasons. From having had a few too many drinks (in which case getting it up at all is an achievement) to stress and anxiety, hypos are just one in a massive array of things that can cause erections to fail. The brain-junk axis is a complex thing.
I’ve had performance issues due to all of these things. None of them are anything to be embarrassed about. Have a frank conversation with your partner whenever convenient, explain that this is something that can happen. People are understanding, if they’re not then ultimately it’s their loss.
If you’re in for something casual, try and take the opportunity to have a sneaky test if you can, but don’t worry about it if you can’t – just roll with the situation.
Most of all, keep some glucotabs in the bedside table, next to the condoms. You might need 20 mins break, but once the BG’s back out of your boots, you can get right back to it.
Now for the gross stuff, because why not. Thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection that is pretty common among women, whether they have diabetes or not, but generally less common in men. Except those of us lucky enough to have diabetes.
The likelihood of getting thrush increases if your blood sugars run high for a while. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s pretty harmless, but it is a bit gross and pretty inconvenient. The first time you get it, it can be pretty worrying too – I ended up making a trip to the GUM clinic to get checked out – and if you’re ever in any doubt you should too.
You might find that the head of your penis gets red and a bit swollen (and not in the usual way, ho ho ho!). It’s usually accompanied with a white discharge under your foreskin, and this can be quite smelly. It’ll probably sting when you pee.
It can be passed on during sex, but – frankly – you’re probably not that likely to be into the idea anyway.
It’s easy to treat, and the best thing to do is go to your GP, who can give you both cream and a tablet, between them these will clear things up pretty fast.
It’ll be uncomfortable for a bit after you treat. If you have a foreskin, it’ll be pretty cracked and sore. It will still sting when you pee. Sex and masturbation will be off the menu. But if you leave it be for a bit, it’ll be good as new. If you’re worried, go see your Doctor. I promise, they’ve seen weirder and worse.
This one’s more an issue of logistics. If you’re injecting your insulin, this isn’t even the start of an issue. This one’s for the pumpers.
Essentially, when having a roll in the sack you don’t really have anywhere to clip your pump, and that tubing will find a way to make itself a nuisance. Simple advice here. Disconnect it. Leave it on the bedside table.
You might be worried about being disconnected for too long and what this might do to your BG, but frankly if this is actually an issue for you then it’s the good kind of problem. Enjoy your status as a herculean sex god, and take a correction afterward. Most of us won’t be going for long enough for this to be an issue.
WE DID IT. We got through it. I managed not to cringe myself inside out writing this, hopefully you haven’t reading it.
Thoughts below in the comments, or to me @k_d85. If there’s any burning questions about sex and diabetes that I haven’t covered, DM me and I’ll do my best to cover it, and I promise anonymity.
6 thoughts on “Dropping The D, when you’ve got D: Sex and Diabetes”
Wow! I never imagined anyone ne could have so much fun, with or without diabetes! Is having it a requirement? And where do I get these cocktails!
Fabulous meeting you, fabulous writing and info and never mind about being a great nurse – dotted you as being a really great human being from the first second!
Keep up the good work!
Haha- fun is always possible David, no matter what! Thanks for checking out the blog, I’m looking forward to yours. All the best, Clare
As I commented on fem version (because I’m a laaaaydee), these posts are amazing, and I learnt a lot! Well done for putting it all out there. So to speak 😉