Diabetes often affects women's sex life

NEW YORK Fri May 8, 2009 8:08am EDT

A couple in a file photo. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

A couple in a file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Over one third of women with type 1 diabetes have some form of sexual difficulty, according to a new study.

The findings also suggest that depression is a key factor linked to the problems with sexuality for such women. In contrast to what has been shown in men, however, complications from diabetes itself do not have a significant impact.

The study, reported in the medical journal Diabetes Care, involved 652 women with type 1 diabetes. After 10-years, the participants completed a sexual function questionnaire and underwent a physical examination, an evaluation of mood, and laboratory testing.

Thirty-five percent of the women were classified as having sexual dysfunction, Dr. Paul Enzlin, from Leuven University in Belgium, and colleagues found.

Problems reported by these women included loss of libido by 57 percent, problems with orgasm by 51 percent, reduced lubrication by 47 percent, reduced arousal by 38 percent, and pain by 21 percent.

On initial analysis, sexual dysfunction was linked to older age, not being married, being postmenopausal, having circulatory problems, and depression. After taking into account various other conditions that could affect these associations, only depression and marital status were significantly related to sexual dysfunction.

"Similar to the annual evaluation of diabetes complications," Enzlin's team concludes, "women with type 1 diabetes should also be regularly queried about the presence of depressive symptoms, sexual function, and sexual satisfaction."

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, May 2009.

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