Too often, discussions of sex with Type 1 diabetes focus on all that can go wrong. While that discussion is important, it’s just as important to discuss ways to make sure everything goes right. Just as with almost everything with Type 1 diabetes, a healthy sex life requires dedication to staying healthy and, sometimes, a little advanced planning.
From discussions with Type 1 diabetes sex experts, we’ve assembled 7 ideas that will improve your chances of a good time with your sexual partner:
1) Talk to your partner. Whether this is your spouse of 20 years or a newfound friend, talk to them about your Type 1 diabetes. For a new partner, you don’t have to feel obligated to give the whole story; a barebones explanation will do. For a longtime partner, keep them informed, as how Type 1 diabetes affects you can change over time.
Don’t be afraid to freak out someone new. If they can’t handle it, they can’t handle you. Better to show them the door if they’re going to be that way about it.
2) Make a pump plan. If you use an insulin pump, decide the best place for it beforehand. Some people prefer to create a small piece of clothing that can hold the pump during sex, and they even have been incorporated into lingerie. If you have to make pump adjustments before the event, use it as a laughable excuse to trot out the “slip into something more comfortable” line.
Others decide to detach their pumps. If that’s the case, you should develop a routine of where you put it in such situations, preferably away from where it might get knocked over during the festivities.
3) Always be prepared. No matter how much you know your Type 1 diabetes, it’s good to have low supplies like snacks and juice-boxes within reach. We can all agree that sex is an unknown variable in duration and exertion, and it’s impossible to predict completely how your body is going to react, so preparation can put your mind at ease.
4) In a word – lubricate. Studies have found that women with Type 1 diabetes often have a bit more difficulty achieving orgasm than women without Type 1. That’s mainly because high blood glucose levels can cause vaginal dryness. While it’s fine not to be goal-oriented about orgasms, lubrication can make everything more fun.
Be warned, though, that some sex lubricants are not sugar-free. Whatever goes on your skin can affect your blood glucose levels. Read the label.
5) Problem? Call your doctor. If you encounter sexual dysfunction more than once, don’t wait it out and see if it will go away. Be proactive and tell your doctor what’s happening. Treatment for T1D male/female sexual issues is more effective if it’s started early.
That being said, everyone has an off-night, even those with fully functioning pancreases, so don’t panic.
6) Regularly see a diabetes mental health professional. Depression is a leading cause of low libido, and people with Type 1 diabetes are more prone to depression than the average population. If you find you are often overwhelmed with taking care of yourself because of Type 1 (and who isn’t?), you can benefit from talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist, especially one who has been trained in understanding issues surrounding diabetes.
You can read our article about a diabetes psychologist here: http://insulinnation.com/living/should-you-go-to-a-diabetes-psychologist/
7) Experiment. In life, it takes constant tinkering to find what works for you to achieve good blood glucose control; the same will hold true with sex. Try different things (positions, duration of foreplay, etc.) and see what works best for you and your partner. Does something that happens during sex always seem to send your blood sugar crashing? Is it best to take a break between foreplay and sex? See if you can find patterns.
You can be like a scientist testing out a hypothesis, except it can be much more fun.