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Sexual Function Clinic

Up to 50 percent of men with diabetes have problems with impotence or decreased sexual function. Women’s sexual problems are more subtle than men’s, but some women with diabetes also experience sexual difficulties, such as vaginal dryness or a decreased sex drive.

The reasons for these problems vary, but they are usually related to the medical complications of diabetes. Vascular (blood vessel) disease can cause reduced blood flow. For men, this can make it difficult to attain or maintain an erection. In women, lubrication of the vagina is also a vascular response to sexual arousal. If the vagina remains dry, sexual intercourse can be painful. Neuropathy, which causes nerve damage, and hormonal imbalances, may also play a role in both men and women’s problems.

Psychological issues, such as stress or depression, are other causes. Fear of failure, self-consciousness, or fear of a hypoglycemic episode brought on by sexual activity can also affect sexual desire and performance.

What We Will Do

If you are a man experiencing sexual dysfunction, you should make an appointment at our clinic. One of our physicians will assess your problem, by doing the following:

  • Ask about your medical history, including questions about your sexual problem.
  • A physical exam and review of diabetes complications.
  • Lab tests to check hormone levels.
  • Review of medicines taken.
  • If necessary, additional testing, such as measurements of erections, an ultrasound, neurological and other tests done at the doctor's office or by you at home.
  • If necessary, referral to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, marriage counselor or sex therapist. These professionals can help you learn how to reduce stress and change behaviors and attitudes.

A Fulfilling Sex Life

Don’t feel embarrassed about bringing the problem to your doctor’s attention. Our providers have discussed this issue with many patients. They view sexual dysfunction like any other medical condition.

There is a range of treatments. After a thorough assessment, we can provide a treatment program that addresses your needs. Remember, too, that any therapy will be more successful if both you and your partner are involved in the process. Learning how to talk with your partner about your problem is an important part of the process.

Clinical Services for Women

The Sexual Function Clinic provides help for male sexual dysfunction. Clinical care for women with sexual dysfunction problems is provided by our affiliate at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Contact:

Jennifer Potter, MD
Women's Health Center at Healthcare Associates
330 Brookline Avenue, Atrium Suite 1
Shapiro 1
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: 617-667-6400

Page last updated: October 26, 2016