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Diabetes Impairs but Does not Halt Sex among Elderly

Diabetes Impairs but Does not Halt Sex among Elderly

Photo: Older couple kissing 

Many middle-aged and older adults with diabetes are sexually active according to a study of people aged 57 to 85. Almost 70 percent of partnered men with diabetes and 62 percent of partnered women with diabetes engaged in sexual activity two or three times a month, comparable to those without diabetes, the study showed.

The disease took a toll, however, on both the desire and the rewards of sexual activity. Men diagnosed with diabetes were more likely to express a lack of interest in sex and to experience erectile dysfunction. Both men and women reported a higher rate of orgasm difficulties, such as climaxing too quickly (men) or not at all (men and women).

"Patients and doctors need to know that most middle age and older adults with partners are still sexually active despite their diabetes," said the study's lead author Stacy Lindau, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of medicine at the University of Chicago. "However, many people with diabetes have sexual problems that are not being addressed."

Only 19 percent of women with diagnosed diabetes, as compared to 47 percent of men, had discussed sexual problems with a physician. Men were much more likely to initiate such a discussion than women.

The survey, performed between July 2005 and March 2006, was part of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. It involved an in-home interview, self-administered questionnaire, medication audit and a blood test to assess diabetes status for 1,993 participants.

It found, based on a blood test (a measure of glycosolated hemoglobin) that 47 percent of the men had diabetes. About 25 percent of men tested were aware they had diabetes and 22 percent had the disease but had not yet been diagnosed. Almost 40 percent of women had diabetes: 20.5 percent diagnosed and 19 percent undiagnosed. This was comparable to previous studies of people over 60 and consistent with the estimate of 12 million persons with diabetes in the U.S. over the age of 60.

"Ignorance of the diagnosis protects individuals from the psychological burden and stigma associated with having diabetes," said Lindau. "The elevated prevalence of orgasm difficulties in people unaware of their diabetes suggests that these are predominantly physical. The erectile dysfunction and loss of interest among men with a diagnosis may be due in part to the psychological burden of diabetes."

The aspect of sexuality most affected by diabetes may have been the reduction of sexual drive. The study found that a little more than 60 percent of men without diabetes had masturbated in the prior 12 months, but for those with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, the rate fell to about 47 percent.

REHACARE.de; University of Chicago Medical Center

- More about the University of Chicago Medical Center at www.uchospitals.edu

 
 

( Source: REHACARE.de )

 
 

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