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March 31, 2003


Question from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India:

My friend, who has had type 1 diabetes for about seven months, is not comfortable with the idea of marriage. He feels he'll pass it on to his wife and kids, and he even feels that his sexual life will a disaster. I have several questions: Can someone with type 1 diabetes have a normal married or sexual life? Are spouses and children of people with diabetes prone to it? Are there any precautionary steps or medicines that the spouse of has to take incase of her partner being a type 1 diabetic at the age of 25? (during normal life/sexual life). Can he have a normal child ?


Your friend is not the only person to have these concerns. It is common to be concerned about issues of sexuality. From your question, it appears that your friend has had diabetes for less than one year. That would mean that he does not necessarily have the complications now but worries about when they will occur. The best insurance against any complications is good blood sugar control. It should also be noted that when sugars are, people with diabetes can be more emotional. He may still be angry about having to deal with the problem of diabetes, let alone marriage and a family.

The complications of diabetes are usually related to how long you have diabetes and the degree of exposure to high blood sugars. Studies where blood sugar control has been carefully controlled have shown that the frequency of developing new complications is much less than those less tightly controlled. For the next few years, he should be able to have normal sexual function. Later, the ability to have erections can be affected when the nerves become involved. However, even then, there are medications that may be used to help males have erections when diabetes causes problems.

You may benefit from counseling together or have your friend seek counseling to sort out how he feels about all these issues. There is not a typical predictable course when sugars are well controlled. It seems that the most important issues are to get your friend adequately educated about diabetes, get him to a physician who can work with him to control his sugars, and for the two of you to talk candidly about the issues once your are informed.