Diabetes and Sensitive Topics
Diabetes affects every part of your life, and it can create problems that aren't easy to talk about with your health care provider. It's important, however, to bring them up, because most problems are treatable. And though you might feel embarrassed, it may help to know that providers see these problems every day.
Here are some common sensitive topics that people with diabetes deal with and suggestions for how to talk about them.
Depression refers to feelings of sadness or hopelessness that don't go away. While it can affect anyone, 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 and can 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, and I'd like to talk with you about it."
Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, causing problems with sexual function. Some medications can affect sexual function, too. 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."
Diabetes can cause infections and nerve damage that weaken the bladder muscle. You may be embarrassed by your bladder problems, but they're not uncommon. Try saying, "In the last few months, I've sometimes had trouble controlling my bladder."
By raising these issues--even if it feels uncomfortable--you'll be taking the first step toward feeling good again. Talking to your health care team will improve both the quality of your care and your life.
- Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
- MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician