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Female Sexual Dysfunction common among Type 1 Diabetics

A study of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) reflected that sexual dysfunction is prevalent in women with type 1 diabetes and that the said condition affects almost all aspects of sexual function and satisfaction.

Despite the fact that diabetes has always been associated with impaired sexual function, Paul Enzlin, PhD and colleagues noted in the study the lack of literature on the sexual functioning of women with diabetes. “Studies of sexual dysfunction in women have lagged behind those in men, likely due to the lack of standardized definitions of sexual dysfunction in women, absence of well-validated scales, and societal taboos regarding female sexuality.

The study aimed to find the link between the risk factors that predict sexual dysfunction among North American women diagnosed with diabetes. The 10-year EDIC study included 652 female participants who were asked to complete a validated self-report measure of sexual function, underwent standardized history and physical examinations, laboratory evaluation, and assessment of mood.

According to the EDIC study, 35 percent of the participants met the requirements for female sexual dysfunction (FSD). Women with FSD noted specific problems such as loss of libido (57%), problems with orgasm (51%), lubrication (47%), arousal (38%), and pain (21%).

“FSD is common in women with type 1 diabetes and affects all aspects of sexual function and satisfaction,” the study authors write. “Depression is the major predictor of sexual dysfunction in women with type 1 diabetes. These findings suggest that women with type 1 diabetes should be routinely queried about the presence of sexual dysfunction and possible co-association with depression.”

In addition, the authors also clarified that the findings of the study is only based on relatively young women with type 1 diabetes and are sexually active. The exclusion of sexually inactive women and lack of a non-diabetic control group of women were cited as limitations of the study.

The study authors said that depression and marital status are the main predictors of FSD. Glycemic control and complications are not closely associated to FSD. “Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these differences. Considering that FSD can have an important negative effect on quality of life and partner relationships, the sexual difficulties of women with diabetes warrant more attention in both research and practice.”

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