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Older Diabetes Patients Still Sexually Active, Study Finds

But many have unaddressed sexual problems that may impair their quality of life, expert says

FRIDAY, Aug. 27, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Most older adults with diabetes are sexually active but the disease does cause some problems with intimacy, a new study found.

U.S. researchers surveyed 1,993 people, aged 57 to 85, and found that nearly 70 percent of partnered men with diabetes and 62 percent of partnered women with diabetes had sex two or three times a month, which is comparable to people the same age without diabetes.

However, compared with men without diabetes, diabetic men were more likely to lack interest in sex and to experience erectile dysfunction. Men and women with diabetes reported a higher rate of orgasm problems, such as climaxing too soon (men) or not at all (men and women).

The study, published in the September issue of the journal Diabetes Care, also found that 47 percent of men with diabetes had discussed sexual problems with a doctor, compared with only 19 percent of diabetic women. Men were much more likely than women to initiate this type of discussion.

"Patients and doctors need to know that most middle-age and older adults with partners are still sexually active despite their diabetes. However, many people with diabetes have sexual problems that are not being addressed," study lead author Dr. Stacy Lindau, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of medicine at the University of Chicago, said in a university news release.

"Failure to recognize and address sexual issues among middle-age and older adults with diabetes may impair quality of life and adaptation to the disease," added senior author Dr. Marshall Chin, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "Sexual problems are common in patients with diabetes, and many patients are not discussing these issues with their physicians."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about diabetes and sexual health.

SOURCE: University of Chicago Medical Center, news release, Aug. 27, 2010
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