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Effects of Diabetes on Female Genital Sexual Arousal Response — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 23, 2008 at 3:05 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Effects of Diabetes on Female Genital Sexual Arousal Response


Erectile dysfunction is a common complication of diabetes, affecting approximately 50% of diabetic men. It is perhaps somewhat easier to diagnose due to the obvious physical changes that occur during male sexual arousal. Less research has been conducted on the changes in female sexual arousal due to diabetes, however. A recent study has clearly shown the numerous changes in sexual arousal physiology in diabetic females.

Normal Physiology of Sexual Arousal

In either sex, sexual arousal involves a fairly complex cascade of neural, hormonal, and circulatory events. Genital tissues become engorged with blood as vessels dilate, smooth muscles relax, and heart rate increases. In women, this allows the lubrication and expansion of the vaginal cavity in preparation of sexual activity.

How Diabetes Can Effect These Signals

The often poorly-regulated blood sugar levels of diabetics can cause tissue destruction throughout the body. Common complications of diabetes include heart, liver, eye, and kidney damage, accelerated artherosclerosis, and peripheral nerve damage. Most all of these complications are the result of oxidative damage caused by chronically high blood sugar.

Urological Research Reveals Specific Changes in Diabetic Female Arousal

A research project presented at the 2007 Urological Research Meeting in Napa, California displayed how female rats with poorly controlled diabetes had vastly altered sexual arousal responses than control rats with better-controlled diabetes. The study is quite thorough, evaluating changes in vaginal tissue structural integrity, vaginal blood flow, the enzymes involved in smooth muscle relaxation, and levels of estrogen and androgen hormones involved in signaling. Untreated diabetic female rats were given either a saline solution (as an experimental control) or a chemical which would inhibit insulin production and therefore exacerbate the diabetic condition. Upon arousal, rats given the insulin-inhibiting drug had significantly decreased vaginal blood flow and atrophied (relaxed or weakened) vaginal muscles, both signs of an inhibited sexual arousal response. The insulin-inhibited rats also had fewer smooth muscle-relaxing enzymes and fewer hormone receptors than the control group.

What This Means for Diabetic Women

The fact that many diabetic women have reported vaginal dryness and decreased sexual arousal suggests that their sexual arousal physiology is being affected much like the rats of the previously described urological study. This study proves the necessity for further research on ways to treat sexual dysfunction not only in diabetic men but also women.

Treating the Source of the Problem

Another way to look at this problem is to consider how it came about in the first place. Diabetes treatment absolutely depends on the control of blood sugar, which has been shown time and again to be heavily dependent on diet and exercise. Fat around the abdomen can contribute to insulin resistance in liver and muscle cells, further complicating the condition of diabetes. Natural treatments which enhance the performance of insulin and/or prevent the absorption of sugar are quickly becoming popular ways to control diabetes when diet and exercise are not enough. You might give these alternative options a try if you suspect your sexual arousal response is being inhibited by the pathology of poorly controlled diabetes.


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