This post goes along side this one, which looks at things from the male perspective.
I’m @clarentina, Co-Shambler and Blog Spirit Animal. Hi. Things are gonna get up close and personal pretty sharpish.
I’ve been diabetic for 14 years, pumping insulin for 5 of those. Like your average twenty-something, I like sex, both in the context of a loving relationship and also at the grimy end to a night of cocktails.
Here are some of my thoughts and stories, I hope you can learn something from them.
I’m all for equality, so it’s good to see that no matter what you keep in your pants diabetes treats you fairly. I can definitely sympathise with Kris in the thrush situation.
This yeast infection is a particularly uncomfortable thing that can affect you and the first time is probably the weirdest. With everything we get told about sexually transmitted infections, to find that things aren’t quite right ‘down there’ – even before having had sex is super confusing. So if you find yourself itchy and inflamed, potentially with discharge, it’s very very likely to be thrush, and worry not, it can be treated very easily.
A few different things can set it off: common triggers are high sugars, synthetic clothes (hello, tights!), antibiotics, and of course, sex.
The quickest and easiest fix is to get down to the Boots pharmacy counter or any chemist and ask for a Canesten pill (this is a brand name- so you can ask for a fluconazole pill and it may come up cheaper!), usually about £6-10. It comes as a single dose and you’ll find the symptoms start to clear up within a day or two. Treatment for thrush is also available in cream or pessary (basically a vaginal tablet – weird though it may sound!) but from experience the oral tablet is most convenient.
You can also visit your GP about this and they’ll probably give you a prescription for the same stuff (so if you can wait for an appointment do – cos then it’s free!). Thrush can sometimes be a bit stubborn to shift, and if you find this is the case, speak to your GP, as there are other things to try. They may want to examine you or take a sample – this can seem embarrassing but it helps me to think about how many body parts the average doctor sees in an average day, then I feel less cringey…
During the time you have symptoms, you’re unlikely to be interested in having sex, but if you are use condoms during this time to prevent sharing this delightful gift with your partner.
As excruciating as it may sound, if you have a regular partner, talk to them about it. A little honesty goes a long way, and at the end of the day your relationship will probably be stronger if you understand each other’s bodies (yes, everything!).
The other really common thing that us D ladies will see lots of is urinary tract infections (so common they come with aliases, so you may also see them referred to as UTIs, cystitis and urethritis).
This is basically a bacterial infection along your wee pipe (urethra) and presents as burning pain when peeing and peeing more often than usual. UTIs also have several causes too, including dehydration, high blood sugars, and of course, having sex. Sex in water is particularly risky since water gets pushed upwards into your urethra (which is really intended to be a one way street). For the particularly adventurous of us, sex in the microbial soup that is the sea is even higher risk for UTIs, so when on holiday and after you’ve had a cocktail or seven, it’s worth keeping in mind.
Driving to a tiny provincial hospital whilst my friends were out having fun on a group holiday and then having to explain it all to them on my return was a low point in that particular holiday. An achievement, since that was also the holiday I drank whisky out of a cereal bowl because we ran out of a) nice drink and b) nice glasses.
UTIs require a course of antibiotics to shift so get booked in to your GP as soon as you can or get down to a walk-in centre. Until you can see a doctor, try and drink enough water (this can help to flush out the infection but usually we need to have the antibiotics too) and also keep the BGs under control (although this can be made tricky by the infection *sigh*)
But don’t worry…
These two rubbish things that are commonly caused by having sex may have made you want to lock up your vagina and never use it for anything fun again- but fear not! It doesn’t have to be that way! My main tip is sex hygiene (which I’m hoping won’t be as clinical and unsexy as it sounds). This comes in two parts.
The first one is to pee after you have sex. I know it seems super fun to high five, spoon, and then fall asleep basking in how awesome you both are, but sadly this is not the way to an easy life. Actually, who am I kidding, you’re diabetic, you probably need to pee anyway. Maybe one thing that we DO have over the Pancreatically Able Ones is that we usually remember to pee after sex. But there will be times when this is less easy to remember. For folks combining those unlikely bedfellows Sex and Booze, remember to pee. Especially remember to pee in this moment, because if you’re drunk, it’s possible you might have high blood sugar after too much sambuca, it’s possible you’ll sleep heavily, and it’s possible that you’ll have unwelcome bacteria floating in the sugary pool of wee that is your bladder (the perfect environment for them to multiply and cause a UTI).
The second bit of vaginadmin that I would recommend taking care of is just a general rinse out. Post-sex, it’s possible that you are carrying ‘up there’ a blend of your own juice, along with someone else’s and maybe even extra lube. This blend is not your friend. Ditch it. If you can, grab a shower, and make sure to really get in there and clean out. Condoms help this juice situation a bit, but still have extra synthetic lube on them, so try and rinse that away. Don’t use any soap for this as that can irritate the area. Water is enough. Try not to get too much water on the bathroom floor otherwise people will ask what on earth you were doing in there and then you have to try and think of an excuse.
I have to do the old faithful and remind y’all to practice safe sex and use condoms and get checked out regularly. This advice can never be given enough. Look after your body! Be extra careful with STIs because despite the fact our immune systems are so badass they can render an entire organ useless, we still technically count as immunocompromised. My doctor seemed to suggest that this would make us more susceptible to infection, and if we did get something, it would affect us worse (Hello, extra frequent herpes flare-ups! Delight!)
Rough and tumble…
On the subject of safe sex I do also need to talk about the other kind of safe sex. Condoms aside, have sex safely. I like to think I’m not alone in getting into the moment, then suddenly position alters a couple of centimetres, and everything is ruined. Rough can be fun, but rough can also end in tears (pronounce this word however you like…).
Be gentle with yourself and your partner, know your limits, and stop if you start to get sore.
I cannot stress this enough, I truly cannot. Rocking up to Accident and Emergency with an abscess on your clitoris the day before Valentine’s Day has NOTHING to recommend it. Having to call in sick to work and on your return explain that no it wasn’t a dental abscess. Having more medical students than sexual partners see your vagina. Getting a Valentine’s card wishing your vagina a speedy recovery. None of these things are recommended by me. Moral of the story, if it feels a bit bad, get it checked out before it gets any worse. GUM clinics are surprisingly approachable places, and usually have drop in times. They will have Seen It All, so please, try not to feel embarrassed. More info here
Well, I was in the mood…
To tie up my loose ends, I suppose I should quickly touch on mood, as Kris has. For blokes the diabetic droop is fairly easy to spot, as it makes penetrative sex a little bit harder (heh heh heh). But, we ladies get turned off by a deviant blood sugar too so please, please don’t ever feel as though you should carry on if you feel a hypo coming just because your body is still physically able to have sex. I know sometimes sex can feel like a man’s game but trust me, it’s our thing too. If you’re not feeling it, you don’t have to do it. If you’re not feeling it mid-way through, you don’t have to finish (either of you!). And if you want to stop halfway through even if your blood sugar is perfect, that’s your prerogative.
Keep talking to your partner, be open with each other, and truthfully you will be rewarded with excellent sex.
If you have any comments about anything, or any questions, please get in touch with me on twitter @clarentina