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Diabetes impairs but does not halt sex among older adults
Date:8/26/2010

Many middle-aged and older adults with diabetes are sexually active according to a study of nearly 2,000 people aged 57 to 85 presented in the September 2010 issue of the journal Diabetes Care. 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, MD, 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."

"Nearly half of the women in this age group do not have a partner," she added. "Women with diabetes are far less likely than women without diabetes to have a partner. Those who have partners were more likely than men to avoid sex because of a problem, and were far less likely than men to discuss a sexual problem with their doctors."

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.

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Contact: John Easton
John.Easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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