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Sex With a Side of Diabetes

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By Kerri Sparling / Divine Caroline

(Cue sleazy saxophone music, dimmed lights, and the extremely uncomfortable mental image of my mother reading this post.)

Even though I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks now, I can’t keep the blush from creeping up my face. But I’m a twenty-something, engaged woman, for crying out loud. There is a sexual element to my relationship. There is also a diabetes element to my sex.

I can’t compare sex with diabetes to sex without diabetes. On the cusp of my twenty-first year with type 1, there’s not much of my life that I’ve lived without diabetes. Sex and intimacy dredges up a whole host of issues, diabetes notwithstanding. Is my body appealing? Am I feeling pretty? Do I think my arms/ass/ears look fat in this shirt/skirt/hat? Will the cat just freaking stop pawing at our ankles?

Now add diabetes to the mix. Is my blood sugar at a stable level? Is there juice within reaching distance, in case of a low? Where is my pump infusion set these days? Can I disconnect easily or do I have to go foraging around for it? Whoops, watch the underwear on that infusion set ... don’t want to tear it out by accident. Are the blinds closed? (Okay, so the last bit has nothing to do with diabetes, but it’s crucial to make sure the blinds are drawn.)

Wearing an insulin pump adds a whole new level to sexual relationships. It’s a machine. And yes, being healthy is sexy and there’s nothing sexier than someone who is taking care of themselves, but once you have adjusted to that comfort level, it’s still a machine. And it’s attached to you at all times, even when you’re feeling amorous. I’ve received a number of emails about sex and an insulin pump. Do I feel self-conscious? Is it awkward during moments of intimacy? Does it get in the way? Does he notice it? Are the blinds drawn?

I wear my infusion set on my thigh specifically to keep it out of my way—away from the waistbands of pants and skirts, away from the abdominal muscles I am working furiously to uncover, and away from my fiancé’s hugging arms.

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