Let's Talk About Sex…

Yes, I’m going here. We are going to talk about it today and I’m going to bare my soul (not other parts of my body…this is not one of those websites) to give you my take on diabetes and sex. However, before we do…

Dear Dad,

There is a very funny Daily Show on right now, followed by a riveting documentary on some topic I am absolutely sure will be exactly what you need to watch right now. Or read a book. Something else.  Because…nothing to see here. Move along. Come back tomorrow.**

BedCouple of things straight up…

  • I’m a chick, so I can only give you a female perspective on this. I’d love to see a male diabetic take on the same subject for the other gender’s point of view.
  • I wasn’t a virgin when I got married. (Neither the first time nor the second time.) I’ve had sex with men who were not my husband(s) before I was married. If you’re offended by that, please don’t read on. You’ll just get all huffy and indignant and I’m not about ruining your day. You have your views and I have mine on this topic. I respect your views. Respect mine.
  • I like sex. A lot. When it’s with someone who makes you laugh out of the bedroom (and sometimes in it), it’s even better. You and I are not going to make love (again, not this kind of website), but I do plan on making you laugh in this post.

Still with me? Good. Dim the lights, turn up the music, and let’s get it on…. (Hat tip to Barry White…)

Safe Sex…

I had unsafe sex in the 90s. No, no, no. Not that kind of unsafe sex! Safe sex means something completely different to diabetics. It means checking your blood sugar before you get swept up in the moment. If the earth moves under your feet, it better be because you are having a good time and not because you’re shaking from a low.

Pre-insulin pump and pre-Humalog days were a little easier for me to get away with “unsafe sex”, because my blood sugars didn’t crash quite so quickly, but I was caught with my pants down (you may roll your eyes) on more than one occasion. Nothing says buzzkill like saying: “Hey, you know what you could do right now that would make me scream with ecstasy? Get me a big glass of juice.”

Nowadays, checking and an occasional carb loading is part of the less than sexy part of foreplay I must partake in. So, remember kids. Always practice safe sex. Both kinds.


I laugh watching movies in which the lovers attack each other, ripping articles of clothing off with teeth, popping buttons, flinging each other around and going at it in crazy places. I’m honestly a little jealous, because these days, for a diabetic wearing an insulin pump and a CGM, it’s more like:

“Hold on. Let me disconnect this… Wait. Don’t pull on that. Tubing. Ow. Where’s my CGM? Careful. Don’t drop that. Shoot. Sorry, did the insertion set scrape you?”

You’re getting the picture. I have to plan for “spontaneous sex” now. I  long for my younger days (pre-pump), when spontaneous meant exactly that, but I do not long for the lack of control I had when it came to my blood sugar. It’s a trade-off, but one I’m willing to make so I can continue to have “not spontaneous” sex for a long time to come.

All That Sugar…

Whipped cream. Chocolate sauce. Strawberries. Honey.

How much do you dose for those when you’re not quite sure how much you’ll eat?

Everything Mickey Rourke fed Kim Basinger in this scene, except for the hot pepper, had sugar in it. Jeez.

(P.S. This was before Mickey Rourke looked like a bad medical experiment.)

Seven of Nine isn’t that sexy sometimes…

I have bumps and lumps and marks from years of injecting. Bruises show up from a bad insertion set. I don’t find them sexy. Gone are the days of proudly parading around in skimpy lingerie. Sex isn’t just about the physical act; it’s about feeling sexy, too.

I don’t think being a cyborg is enticing and it does impact how I see myself in another person’s eyes. (My husband may tell you otherwise, but this is about me and my perspective.) I hate dragging myself out of a blissful stupor to reattach myself to my pump and can’t ever just drift off to sleep curled up naked. Naked means not wearing anything. I’m always wearing a pump.

Control? Blood Glucose or Birth? Both…

The “Pill” was introduced to my body long before it became useful for it’s originally intended reason to prevent me from writhing in pain for days each month. I was on and off  it for years, changing dosages and types as new ones came on the market. It helped with the gut-wrenching menstrual cycles, but come to find out I was putting myself at high risk of stroke (I have a clotting disorder that wasn’t diagnosed until my late 30s). The docs now tell us that diabetes and oral contraceptives may not be the best mix if you’ve got a history of stroke/blood clots/clotting disorders in your family or if you’re over 35. So, next…

IUDs are also pretty much out. The risk of infection (thanks again, diabetes) is greater for us, so it’s not a great option.

The reproductive endocrinologist we saw wanted me to stop getting pregnant (and miscarrying) for a while, so it was frisbee (diaphragm) and foams and standing in the middle of the “family planning aisle” at CVS wondering when condoms started to come in bright colors. (Who the hell says: “Hey, honey? Neon pink or emerald green tonight?”) Truthfully, I was always a “can’t be too careful” sort of girl, so there was always a multiple barrier option being exercised in my youth. It didn’t mess with my blood sugars. That’s the only positive thing I can say about those types of birth control.

It’s complicated…

Even though your heart might be into it, your body may not be. I’m all for lots and lots of foreplay, and not just because it’s fun. For women, high blood sugars can make us less physically responsive, no matter how much we want it. Emily Post believes in hand-written thank you notes when you really feel strongly, so I think K-Y will be getting a perfectly penmanshipped “Merci!” on linen stationary soon. That stuff is liquid gold, but man, it is messy.

If I’ve had a nasty low, I don’t want to get nasty. I want to sleep it off. It takes a toll in the bedroom…or the couch…or the…. pick your favorite place… and I hate when my blood sugars go crazy, because it usually means I can’t. Diabetes can mess with your head – and your body – and your sex life. Don’t take it just from me; here’s a study. And this study. And high blood sugars? While it hasn’t happened in a very long while to me, diabetics are prone and primed for yeast infections. It makes getting lucky more like “get the hell away from me”.

This all being said, I know a lot of diabetics who have healthy and happy sex lives. I also know a lot of non-diabetics who don’t. Sex isn’t everything, but it sure is something. And I enjoy that “something”, even though my diabetes gives me that extra “something something” I don’t really want. Sex with diabetes is good, but I can only imagine that sex without diabetes is better.

See, told you that I wouldn’t bare my body, but you do get a little insight into what goes through my head. (Not everything. It’s not that kind of website.)

** When I was a senior in high school, I had a midnight curfew. Midnight. Not five minutes later. Midnight. But I could have friends over. One night, I brought a friend over to hang out after midnight. Just so happened to be a boy. I yelled up to my parents that the guy and I would be hanging out in my room. The story goes that my dad said to my stepmom:

“Do you think Christel’s still a virgin?”

Her answer:

“I don’t know. What time is it?”

  1. My husband was dx in December. His blood sugar typically goes up, up, up right before/right after sex. I always worry about lows, though!

  2. I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time. Haven’t quite figured out how to tell everything without baring everything, if you know what I mean. Kudos to you for covering this touchy subject so well!

  3. Love this & can related it in all dimensions! I’m currently working on my own sexd ( that’s not a typo) post & you made it easier for me to be blunt and honest.
    Thanks for all of the above & all you do!

  4. You’re awesome, but you already know it. Thanks for the reminders, whenever I get around to using them again – ha ha.

  5. I think you touched on some of the very issues I would discuss if I had the courage to write such a post.
    * Does my infusion set scratch? I’ve asked that question; my wife says she doesn’t even notice it (is it always true? I’m not quite sure).
    * High (or low, or unstable) sugars do tend to not put me in the mood…
    * These days, I just disconnect the pump and toss it on the nightstand (or in the general direction of the nightstand…); that’s my spontaneity.
    * Have I brought food (or sweet condiments) into the bedroom? No… part because I’m not that kinky and part because I don’t need the distraction of counting cabs or a beeping CGM.
    * Not being able to snuggle up afterwards without testing, reconnecting, and correcting first? That’s probably the biggest pain of all.
    I admire you for bringing up the topic and writing about it!

    (Oh, and hello Mr. Christel’s Dad! We’re just talking… I swear!)

  6. Well written, well said.
    And you made me laugh.

  7. Thanks for tackling this, Christel.

  8. I should write a post about how great it is having sex with the OmniPod. Well, not with the OmniPod, but while wearing it. No time lost to disconnect or plug back in! A barrier for me to getting the CGM and pump was not feeling sexy naked. Sounds silly, but it’s true. The first time I was naked in front of my fiance with all the gadgets on I started crying because I felt so unattractive. He obviously made me feel otherwise. These are real things we all face. Thanks for being brave enough to write about it! Also, can I co-sign the thank you card to KY?

  9. All “How-to” Diabetes books should just include this post in their chapters on “Sex with Diabetes”. Perfectly said.

  10. Perfectly stated! I could’ve written this post myself – in fact I forwarded it along to my husband!!

  11. My husband jokes that I should be Seven of Nine for Halloween and still thinks I’m hot, even though I’m a cyborg. But yes, this post needs to be put in a book somewhere.

  12. “Hold on. Let me disconnect this… Wait. Don’t pull on that. Tubing. Ow. Where’s my CGM? Careful. Don’t drop that. Shoot. Sorry, did the insertion set scrape you?”

    Ahh I feel like I’ve said those exact words! You said it all so perfectly, what a great post (like always!)

  13. […] I’m not going to discuss religion or spirituality here. (Or politics, but sex, well…. I’ve already gone there.) But I am going to talk about what I realized after I read what he had to […]

  14. I will brave and admit I have had ED since age 50 (I was T1 for 44 years at that time). I am now 74. Do the math…it has been a long time since…….

    I have been T1 for 68 years, and I am very healthy, but ED at age 50 is the worst thing my T1 has done to me.

  15. You… You are… I just cannot understand how you crawled into my brain and scraped all that out to use it in your blog, but omg you got it all perfectly! This was my first time ever reading one of your posts (thank you to a certain someone on a certain T1D Women’s Support Group on FB), and I am so glad I found you!!!

    I think the one thing that bothers me the most is that every time my hubby and I have sexytime, he gets to go to sleep and I get to stay up for the next 2 hours (or 3, or the rest of the night) babysitting my blood sugar. I can’t snuggle or cuddle or fall asleep blissfully in his arms. And you’re right. The days where I used to use Toronto and NPH were so much easier in comparison! And yes, those chronic issues us T1D ladies get are a real curse to intimacy. No one trultly gets it like another T1D.

    Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading. You’re my hero for being brave enough to write this article. 😍

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