Dr. Google came calling the other night.
The search was simple: “Diabetes and Sex.”
Nah, this wasn’t for scientific study, medical knowledge to cram for cocktail party chatter, or educational know-how to diagnose myself or others. I was just curious about what the results would be.
From the start, I kind of guessed what the results would be and maybe it would serve as some sorta justification for writing here on this blog.
Top results were as follows:
- Sex and Diabetes: What You Wanted to Know. An informative and handy article from Diabetes Forecast in November 2012. Good stuff in there, and it was very easy to understand. And it made me happy to see that there was a sub-header of “Him” that broke down the guy-specific stuff before delving into the more common “Her” talk on D and Sex.
- Diabetes and Sexual Health in Men: Understanding the Connection. An online read from the ever-esteemed Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. So yeah, the second-top result from that search came back guy-focused. I can only assume that’s because us guys are more often the ones searching, instead of talking about these issues? Hmmm. While happy that Google recognizes the need for this kind of online read, and it’s high-ranking in SEO, this Joslin piece is pretty… um, limp. Pretty much dry medical info that you could guess would come from any doc or reading a medical textbook.
Really, that’s all that need to be mentioned from this initial search. Because the rest were all about the same — mostly dry, non-personal information that really doesn’t get at the psychosocial aspects of this whole conversation and need for peer-to-peer support. One result focused on women’s sexual health. A couple others mentioned sexual dysfunction. There was a federal government page through the National Institutes of Health (see also: dry medical lingo and stats).
Oh, and I also added in a quick search for “Diabetes, Sex, Men” and found pretty much the same crap… including this March 2015 article written by two medical people at a site called HealthyDay, which has much of the same. Even the ADA has gotten in on this online info, creating a whole “Men With Diabetes” hub that then goes into the medically-reviewed and approved info on sex-related stuff.
On their face, the above results were probably all full of important and well-researched medical expertise. And for everything there, I could see the words included in the little descriptions on the Google search page, making me not want to even click over to read because it wasn’t worth the effort.
What this tells me: People are searching for these terms and topics, because they’re important issues in life. And it’s easier to search online for an answer than to consult your Significant Other, dad, neighbor (or anyone you actually know) about these intimate and delicate matters.
But the real conversation isn’t there, isn’t ranking in searches, and isn’t crossing into people’s reader feeds or search pages.
And that bothers me.
The reason why that isn’t be ranked or talked about much online is also the reason it bothers me so much — because, according to even the Diabetes Forecast story with a #1 Ranking on the topic, it’s a huge issue that most diabetics and doctors don’t even feel comfortable talking about. The first lines of that article quotes a 2010 study in the journal Diabetes Care that found “only about half of all men with diabetes and 19% of women with diabetes have broached the topic with a doctor. And, truth is, many doctors don’t feel comfortable prodding patients for details on sexual function.”
I know it’s true, without even consulting studies and stats. I’ve put off talking about these issues for a long time in my own life with those people closest to me. Years ago, I ignored them and didn’t share with my doctors that these issues were materializing in my life. Yes, neuropathy was popping into my world, but I either bypassed the below the belt talk or just downplayed it as “nothing out of the ordinary to be concerned about” when asked during my endo appointments, as they went down the checklist of questions.
That’s my own damn fault.
But it was part of a bigger issue of not talking about these (and other) diabetes-related issues, including mental health. And in more recent years, I’m glad to have started taking these more seriously and recognizing that they need to be topics of conversation — with my docs, and in my house.
And maybe even, the Diabetes Online Community.
So here we are.
For the record, if you add in the word “blog” in the Google search for anything on diabetes and sex, you will actually come across some more personal, real-life talks about this kind of stuff. Not the tougher, all serious, guy-specific stuff, but good places to read anyway.
And even this one at dLife that I’d describe as “less-personal than a blog, but more handy than most other posts.” It’s written by some well-respected people in the medical arena who know what they’re talking about, and while much of it’s the same BLAH, it does have some good practical tips and tidbits to keep in mind when talking about this complicated sexual health stuff.
No, I didn’t venture into any forums because none particularly stood out from my Google searching… and I wasn’t on the hunt for those needle-in-a-haystack chats. Just easy reads where I wanted to find that real talk… but I really didn’t, for the most part.
What would I add, if I could make my own Google-ranked post about diabetes and sex as it relates to men?
Well, fuck. Let me think.
My lower body nerve damage has traveled north through the years. Yes, I have ED. Sometimes I wish I was in my early 20s again, but get sucked back to the reality that I’m in my 40s now and it’s not as easy in bed as it once was.
Not only because of the long-term complications side of the coin, but just the regular diabetes management aspects.
I know that if my blood sugar’s High, into the 200s or even above that, the prospects in bed won’t be that good. When I’m lazy and don’t count carbs well enough or don’t respect my insulin pump site changes with insulin on board… those higher blood sugars mean trouble.
Don’t even get me started on Lows that bring with them a wave of confusion and inability to perform, especially at the Dexcom beeeeeping levels below 55 mg/dL.
There is all the other coordination about mood-setting and making sure all the stars aligned aside from diabetes, sure.
And sometimes, I just don’t care about which arm my Dexcom sensor is on and where my infusion set is located. Ripping them both off is fine, in the heat of the moment. Except when I don’t disconnect my insulin pump beforehand, and it falls off the bed and rips the site… yeah, ouch.
Hey, this is all real life when it comes to diabetes and sex, right?
Advance planning for sex is deflating. And taking a Sudafed pill takes a lot of the fun out of the experience leading up to it, and serves as a reminder of how broken I really am. That mentality brings with it all kinds of emotions about adequacy and disappointment, and really that mental chess game has all become part of the planning process.
I can whine about these things all day until I’m blue in the… face. While it really doesn’t serve me any purpose other than venting, maybe what I’m saying will let someone else know they aren’t alone in experiencing these problems or feeling this way.
“Me too,” right? (thanks to those who already commented with that train of thought, btw)
In my own bedroom, what it comes down to in the end is getting my mind together to not let the diabetes complications and blood sugar challenges win out.
I wonder how Google will interpret this post.