Blood Sugar and Your Intimate Health
Get ready to turn up the summer heat as we dive into the connection between your blood sugar and sexual health! Could your blood sugar be impacting your intimate life? Learn about the latest research and gain actionable lifestyle tips to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and foster a fulfilling and satisfying intimate life with Dr. Bitner and Dr. Egan in our latest Let’s Chat: Steamy Summer, Blood Sugar, and Your Intimate Health.
What is Sex and Sexual Health?
While definitions of sex and sexual health might seem obvious, it is important to correctly define each before discussing intimate health.
Sex can refer to any sexual activity – it does not have to involve penetrative intercourse! Sex is about intimacy and pleasure, however, that looks for you and your partner.
As defined by the World Health Organization, sexual health refers to “a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality.” Sexual Health does not mean the absence of disease or sexually transmitted infections. Instead, it involves well-being within interpersonal relationships, respect, safe interactions, and consenting adults.
Spontaneous Desire vs. Responsive Desire
Defining desire is also essential when it comes to understanding sexual health. There are two types of desires. Spontaneous Desire and Responsive Desire. Spontaneous Desire is what it sounds like: sexual desire that seems to spark out of nowhere. People with spontaneous desire mentally experience desire without physical stimuli first. This type of desire is typically common at the beginning of relationships but can return during midlife with the use of estrogen. Responsive Desire occurs as a direct response to becoming aroused during sexual activity. It does not spark before sex; people need physical stimuli before mentally feeling desire. Remember, there is nothing wrong with either type of desire!
Sexual Dysfunction is Common
Think you are the only one experiencing low desire? Think again! The prevalence of sexual dysfunction (low desire, difficulty with orgasm, and pain with sex) is high – 70% of women will experience some form of sexual dysfunction. Hormonal changes during menopause can also be a culprit. Over 50% of women experience low libido during menopause. Despite how common this issue is among women, only 20% of women or physicians will discuss sexual health in an appointment.
Sexual Health and Metabolic Disease
The most important thing to understand is that experiencing low libido is not your fault! Underlying health conditions, mental health, and lack of sleep often contribute to low desire. Blood sugar imbalances, in particular, can impact both men’s and women’s intimate health, from libido fluctuations to intimacy challenges.
The liver processes sugar and produces hormones, which can significantly impact sexual health. Decreased libido is often seen in patients with liver disease. If your liver struggles to process sugars, this can lead to imbalanced blood sugar. Blood sugar issues can decrease blood flow to sexual areas, such as the clitoris, making arousal and orgasm difficult.
A biochemical imbalance can occur when the liver is not producing the right hormones or struggling to absorb extra estrogen. This leads to estrogen buildup in fat tissues, particularly in the belly area, and unwanted hair growth. Dr. Bitner discusses more about insulin resistance, belly fat, and chin hair here.
The Sex Deck
Blood sugar imbalances and metabolic issues are one of the many reasons for low sexual desire. There are at least 27 reasons for low libido, including Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, medications, insecurities, low estrogen or testosterone, depression, painful penetration, vaginal dryness, and anxiety from daily stressors.
At true. Women’s Health, we teach and think about sex drive, or libido, using a puzzle analogy. Each person has a libido puzzle, men included, and Dr. Bitner’s Sex Deck Cards allow couples to learn more about their personal puzzles by laying their cards on the table – literally. Couples may be struggling with physical, psychological, or interpersonal challenges impacting their sex lives, and the Sex Deck covers many of these factors to jumpstart conversations about intimacy. “I don’t have any libido,” “It hurts,” and “I can’t orgasm” don’t have to be common phrases in your vocabulary anymore!
- What is your Picture of Self for your sex life? How do you want to feel about yourself? Your partner and your relationship? What do you want your sex life to look like? It’s okay if you would like to have more sex, and it is also okay if you don’t want to have sex. Feel empowered to make decisions that are best for you and your overall health (mental, emotional, and physical).
- Take a deep dive into your blood sugars.
- Take advantage of new technology to help figure out your lifestyle choices. Many of us know what we should be doing for our health, and knowing where to start can also be challenging. Tools such as continuous glucose monitors to take control of blood sugar issues or mindfulness apps to control cravings are great places to understand and guide healthy choices. Another app we recommend is the Peloton app (you don’t need the bike!) for classes ranging from cardio to yoga!
- There is a connection between blood sugars, biological health, and sexual health.
- You are worth it! When desire or function is low, know it is not your fault, and there are real health and body factors that play a part. You deserve to know!
Five Questions You Can Ask Your Healthcare Provider
- What is my phase of ovarian function?
- Has my blood sugar been thoroughly evaluated?
- Am I a candidate for medication to help with my sexual health? One medication is called Addyi, which has been shown to be effective at improving sexual desire in 60% of women, and the other is called Vylessi. Dr. Bitner calls Vylessi the “horny shot” because women experience high desire typically within 45 minutes of injection. Both are FDA-approved medications.
- What resources do you have to help get my blood sugar under better control? There are many options and resources to help with blood management, including seeing a dietitian about making better food choices, integrative behavioral programs for cravings and impulse control, or medications.
- What resources do you have to improve my sex life? Start with the sex deck! These are the 27 reasons for low desire, and each card offers advice on how to enhance desire. The sex deck also helps to open a conversation about sex and desire with your partner. Talk with your physician about potential underlying issues and utilize the website Prosayla as a women’s health resource!
Keep the Conversation Going
You deserve to understand your body! Low libido is not your fault and is often related to other health aspects. If you are frustrated about your lack of desire, connect with the team at true.! The only way to solve low libido is to talk about it openly, and we are always willing to find a solution that is right for you. It’s never too late to improve your sex life and prioritize your pleasure!