By Dr. Poosha Darbha, Sexology
With rapidly changing lifestyles, diabetes and hypertension have become extremely prevalent. India is the world’s new diabetes capital, and hypertension is a close twin for diabetes. These are not single-system diseases, in that they directly or indirectly affect the entire body in different ways. What many do not realize is that sex requires the optimal function of several body systems. When hypertension and diabetes affect a person, a person’s sex life is affected in more ways than one. Read on to know some intricacies of these lifestyle diseases and your sex life:
1. Hypertension: Commonly known as high BP, hypertension makes blood vessels hard and narrow, forcing the heart to exert extra pressure to ensure blood reaches all target organs. One of the first steps for an erection is the increased blood flow into the sex organs. When one is hypertensive (has high BP) for a long period of time, this does not happen with the required efficiency. That is why doctors ask if the ED patient has a history of hypertension. In women, those with high blood pressure are more likely to report a decrease in vaginal lubrication, less frequent orgasm, and more frequent pain with intercourse, hindering them from enjoying good sex life. For men, another damper is that some antihypertensive medications can actually lead to erectile dysfunction.
2. Diabetes: Similar to hypertension, diabetes sometimes gets diagnosed coincidentally when erectile dysfunction is being diagnosed. Long-standing and poorly controlled diabetes affects the circulatory and nervous system very badly, both very critical for good sex life. There is reduced circulation to all organs, including the genitals. There is a loss of sensation due to diabetic neuropathy, which again dampens sex life. Diabetes and hypertension cause chronic inflammation in the body, which also affects the sexual organs. Hormones play a negative role when there is diabetes, which also reduces overall sex drive and performance. The stress hormones circulate excessively, sex hormones are reduced, all of which lead to poor sex life.
Both hypertension and diabetes, being chronic diseases, also play a major role in terms of increased stress levels. The link between stress and sex is well established. Both diabetes and hypertension are caused by and further produce a poor lifestyle. The person may not have healthy eating habits, physically less active, be drinking and smoking excessively. All these, needless to say, produce physical and emotional issues, none of which favour a good sex life.
Sex, though a physical act, has a lot more to do with overall emotional health. So, it is essential to maintain good physical and emotional health for a healthy sex life, and vice versa is equally true.