FRIDAY, July 27, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Sex is less satisfying for middle-aged and older women with diabetes than those without the disease, new research suggests.
The University of California, San Francisco, study of nearly 2,300 ethnically diverse women, aged 40 to 80, in California found that women with diabetes were just as interested and engaged in sexual activity as their healthy peers.
Women with diabetes, however, were much more likely to be less satisfied with sex. Low overall sexual satisfaction was 40 percent more likely to be reported by diabetic women who weren't taking insulin, and more than twice as likely to be reported by diabetic women taking insulin, compared with non-diabetic women.
The study also found that diabetic women receiving insulin treatment were more than twice as likely to have difficulty with lubrication and 80 percent more likely to have difficulty achieving orgasm.
The findings are published online in the August issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"Diabetes is a recognized risk factor for erectile dysfunction in men, but there have been almost no data to indicate whether it also affects sexual function in women," study senior author Dr. Alison Huang, assistant professor in the UCSF department of medicine, said in a university news release.
Diabetes and its treatments can affect women's sexual function, the researchers said. They said doctors should consider assessing diabetic women for sexual problems, particularly those who take insulin.
Overall, nearly 64 percent of the women in the study reported some sexual activity in the past three months.
Nearly 11 percent (about 12.6 million) of women aged 20 and older in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The researchers didn't distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but they assumed most had type 2, based on age of diagnosis.
Although the study found an association between diabetes and less sexual pleasure, it did not show a cause-and-effect relationship.
The American Diabetes Association has more about diabetes.