Washington, July 26 (ANI): Diabetes is known as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction in men, but a new study has now revealed that it also affects sexual function in women.
According to a UCSF study, women with diabetes are just as likely to be interested in, and engage in, sexual activity as non-diabetic women, but they are much more likely to report low overall sexual satisfaction.
The researchers also found that diabetic women receiving insulin treatment were at higher risk for the specific complications of lubrication and orgasm.
The researchers sought to examine the relationship of diabetes to sexual function in an ethnically diverse group of middle-aged and older women.
According to the research team, the disease has the potential to affect sexual function in women through a variety of mechanisms. These include vascular changes in the urogenital tissues affecting lubrication, and alterations in genital arousal response. Sexual function also may be adversely affected by diabetes medications or other interventions directed at monitoring or treating the disease.
The researchers sent a questionnaire to 2,270 women aged 40 to 80 years who were insulin-treated diabetic, non-insulin-treated diabetic or non diabetic women, and then compared their self-reported sexual desire, frequency of sexual activity, overall sexual satisfaction, and specific sexual problems (difficulty with lubrication, arousal, orgasm, or pain). They also assessed the relationships between diabetic end-organ complications (heart disease, stroke, renal dysfunction, and peripheral neuropathy) and sexual function.
The odds of reporting low overall sexual satisfaction were more than two-fold higher in insulin-treated diabetic women, and more than 40 percent higher in non-insulin treated diabetic women, compared to non-diabetic women.
No significant differences in sexual desire or frequency of sexual activity by diabetes status were observed, after the investigators took into account other differences in participants’ demographic background and medical histories.
Among sexually active women, insulin-treated diabetic women were more than twice as likely to report difficulty with lubrication, and 80 percent more likely to report difficulty achieving orgasm compared to non-diabetic women, after adjusting for the same demographic and clinical factors.
Among all diabetic women, end-organ complications such as heart disease, stroke, renal dysfunction, and peripheral neuropathy were associated with decreased sexual function in at least one domain.
The study did not examine whether the women had Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but the researchers assume that because of age of diagnosis, and when they started insulin, that the majority of participants had Type 2 diabetes.
Previous studies have suggested that psychological factors, such as depression, play a role in sexual dysfunction among diabetic women. The UCSF team did not assess the impact of depression on female sexual function in this study, but did adjust for antidepressant use among participants since it can worsen sexual function. The team found that relationships between diabetes and sexual function were independent of anti-depression therapy.
The study appeared online in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. (ANI)