What to Think About When Dating With Diabetes
The following are some of the most important things to consider when navigating your dating life and diabetes:
Communication is essential when you’re dating with diabetes. It’s up to you to decide when and how you disclose your diagnosis, and it’s normal to feel unsure about opening up. You may not want your partner to feel burdened or overwhelmed. You may fear judgment or feel embarrassed talking about such a personal health issue, especially at the beginning of a relationship. But in a serious relationship, being able to openly discuss diabetes and its impact can be invaluable both practically and emotionally.
If you’re dating someone who doesn’t have diabetes, they may know very little about the topic. Be open to educating them and answering questions honestly so they have a better understanding of how to be there for you and what your diagnosis means for your relationship. This can include discussing the following topics:
- Stressors you feel might affect your relationship
- Dietary preferences and limitations
- Activities you need or prefer to avoid
- Medication side effects
- What would be helpful to you from your partner
Communication will help you and your partner ensure that the needs of both of you are known and met.
Diabetes and related complications can affect your sex life in significant ways, including the following:
- Diminished sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Difficulty ejaculating
- Vaginal infections
- Vaginal dryness
The physical exertion of sex may also cause hypoglycemia in the same way regular exercise can. To avoid hypoglycemia, it’s a good idea to check your blood sugar before and after sex. An all-in-one monitor, such as POGO Automatic®, lets you test quickly and discreetly, no matter where you are.
You should always begin by discussing any sexual issues with your healthcare provider. They will determine if your treatment plan needs to be adjusted and can recommend appropriate strategies for getting your sex life back on track. As the American Diabetes Association notes:
Chronic high blood glucose (or blood sugar) is behind many sexual problems people face, and the first line of action is to improve glucose control.
Your healthcare provider can also identify whether your symptoms point to other diabetes-related complications; erectile dysfunction, for example, is often an early warning sign of a cardiovascular condition. While it can feel awkward to discuss sex with your healthcare provider, such conversations are critical for protecting your immediate sexual wellness and long-term health.
Depending on your relationship and comfort level, it may be helpful to discuss diabetes-related sexual issues with your partner. In fact, some issues—and some solutions—will be obvious to your partner and difficult to ignore. Open communication gives your partner the opportunity to understand and support you so you can work toward a better sex life together.
Even if you follow your diabetes management plan to a T, blood sugar events can occur. Whether you need immediate insulin dosing, an urgent visit to your healthcare provider’s office, or just a snack after strenuous activity, letting your partner know your game plan will help them understand what is happening and be there for you.
If your relationship gets serious, you may want to discuss if and how you would like them to be involved in your everyday treatment plan. A simple way to get them involved is by using an app, such as the Patterns® for POGO Automatic® app. Patterns logs and tracks your glucose measurements and presents data in user-friendly visuals so you can easily understand your blood sugar trends. You can share your data with your healthcare provider, your partner, or anyone else you want to involve in your care. If your blood sugar falls out of your target range and you fail to respond to alerts, the app can send your partner (and any other emergency contacts) a notification with your blood sugar level and location.
Of course, how much you share with your partner is ultimately your decision, and it may change over time.
Set Yourself Up for Success
How diabetes affects dating can vary drastically from person to person and relationship to relationship. If you are concerned about dating with diabetes, use this guide as a jumping-off point to navigating romantic relationships and your diagnosis. Remember, there is no one right approach, but with honest communication and healthy boundaries, you can set yourself up for success.
Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.