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Diabetes and Sensitive Topics

Diabetes affects every part of your life. It can often create problems that aren't easy to talk about with your healthcare provider. But, it's important to bring them up. Most problems are treatable. And though you might feel embarrassed, know that providers see these problems every day.

Here are some common topics that people with diabetes deal with. Included are tips for how to talk about them.


Depression is not a choice. It's an illness that can be treated. Depression refers to feelings of sadness or hopelessness that don't go away. It can affect anyone. But it's more common in people with diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Managing your diabetes day after day can feel overwhelming. Blood sugar that's too high or too low can make you feel tired and anxious. It can also interfere with sleep. When you're depressed, it's harder to take care of yourself. If you don't know how to bring up the topic, try saying, "I haven't been feeling like myself lately." You can say, "I'm sleeping a lot" or "I'm having a hard time getting motivated to do things or take care of myself. I'd like to talk with you about it." If you give specific examples, it will help your provider ask relevant follow-up questions.

Sexual intimacy

Diabetes can harm blood vessels and nerves. This can cause problems with sexual function. Some medicines also can affect sexual function. It's normal to feel embarrassed or upset about these problems. But don't let that stand between you and enjoying sexual intimacy again. Raise the issue by saying, "I'm having a personal problem that I'd like to talk with you about." Or "I'm wondering if diabetes might be affecting my sex life."

Bladder problems

Diabetes can cause infections and nerve damage that weaken the bladder muscle. You may be shy about your bladder problems, but they're not uncommon. Try saying, "I sometimes have trouble controlling my bladder." Diabetes can also lead to bladder and groin infections, especially if you are taking certain newer medicines for type 2 diabetes.

Severe diarrhea or constipation

Many problems with the nerves to your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) can result in issues such as constipation, explosive diarrhea, or loss of control of stool. A course of antibiotics or changing the fiber in your diet may be helpful.

The benefits of talking about it

By raising these issues, you'll be taking the first step toward feeling good again. It shows you're ready to start to make the changes you need to. This includes lowering your blood pressure or improving blood sugar numbers. Talking to your healthcare team will improve both the quality of your care and your life.

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