Safe Sex with Individuals with Diabetes

Hey, All — if you’ve got questions about life with diabetes, then you’ve come to the right location! That would be our weekly diabetes advice column, Request D’Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes writer Wil Dubois.

Now, Wil is digging into a somewhat embarrassing question that people without diabetes occasionally ask about intimacy. The answer is pretty obvious any way you look at it, but here’s how Wil would respond in a style all his own…

Ray, type 3 out of Louisiana, asks: when you have oral sex with a person who has diabetes, can you get it too?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Boy, am I ever glad you asked me instead of your possible partner in this sexcapade. As had you asked her or him, I suspect that you’d be having sex with yourself tonight.

So here’s the deal: You can’t get diabetes from someone else. Period. Regardless of what you may have read about the “diabetes outbreak,” diabetes is not a contagious disease. You simply can’t catch diabetes. Whatsoever. It is not possible. It doesn’t work that way. Diabetes is hereditary. You were born with it should you get it. To be super clear about this:

  • You can’t get diabetes by breathing the exact same air we do.
  • You can’t get diabetes by shaking the hands of a person who has diabetes.
  • You can’t get diabetes by sharing a fork with someone who has diabetes.
  • You can’t get diabetes by sitting on a toilet seat that someone with diabetes utilized.
  • You can’t get diabetes if one of us sneezes on you, even though that would be impolite.
  • You can’t get diabetes from a blood transfusion that uses blood.
  • You can’t get diabetes by kissing someone who has diabetes. Even a loooooong French kiss.

And you can’t get diabetes with sex of any sort with someone who has diabetes. Not through oral sex, not through sex, not through anal sex. You know, I’m often asked by PWDs if there aren’t any upsides to having diabetes, and I usually draw a blank at this query. But, now, here it is: We have a chronic ailment we can’t pass on to our sex partners! Yay! Party naked with all the PWDs!

OK, so how do folks have diabetes, and are our numbers increasing? How can there be an outbreak of a disease that can’t be spread from person to person? Those questions are not as simple as they seem, but here goes. The most common kind of diabetes is known as type 2, and it’s a disease of insulin resistance. You’re either born with the genes for this or you are not, and the disease is “triggered” by a mix of variables, with weight and age being just two of the most noteworthy. A lot more folks take the type 2 genes than previously understood, because our worldwide diabetes numbers have jeopardized hand-in-hand with a worldwide obesity crisis, that itself has been triggered by widespread shifts in eating patterns.

Additionally, in the Planet Earth, diabetes numbers have increased as we have made advancement in beating back deaths from communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. In other words, people in many states are now living long enough to develop diabetes, and they hadn’t been before. Meanwhile, the infrequent type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the insulin-producing cells in the uterus, is on the rise as well, and the reasons for this are unclear, partly because the root cause of the disease itself is still not well known. As for me, I think there are more kind 1s because we’re currently living long enough to pass our genes on. Before the dawn of insulin, all type 1s expired, most as children.

So there you are. The numbers are increasing due to complex far-reaching changes in global society, but diabetes comes from inside. It is not spread person-to-person such as the flu or pneumonic plague. I hope that clears up that.

But back to oral sex before we go: I would be remiss in my duty as a retired public health worker if I didn’t point out that while you can’t get diabetes from oral sex, there are loads of different things you could “catch” out of it. While oral sex is unquestionably the safest type of sex, at least when it comes to having unprotected sex with strangers, it’s still possible to get a variety of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) from oral sex.

According to the Centers for Disease Control the following STDs can be passed on from oral sex: chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, HIV, HPV, Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis. The Feds have a wonderful little foreplay-inducing graph on that page that lists every sort of oral sex possible (and then some) and lists the associated risks of every sort of oral sex for every type of STD. I noticed that the graph also indicates which combinations of oral sex and disease transmission have been well-studied, and which ones haven’t.

Many have not been well-studied.

For instance, to quote the Feds: “Getting oral sex on the anus out of a partner having chlamydia in the throat may lead to getting chlamydia in the rectum.” I will wager most of us didn’t know that prior to getting out of bed this morning. But as I said, this is one of these statements on the website that’s “not well-studied.”

So, actually, how risky is oral sex? The simple fact is we simply don’t know. And why is this? Straightforward: Most people who engage in oral sex also engage in other kinds of sex, which makes it impossible to type the STD risk from oral sex alone. About the sole STD studied well when it comes to oral sex is HIV, and we all know from these studies that oral sex is not as likely to disperse the virus compared to anal or vaginal sex; but is the exact same true for other STDs–a few of which are viral and a few of which are bacterial?

But for view, recent show that every year there are a little more than two thousand cases of STDs in an adult population of 126 million or so. That provides you with an overall risk of STD exposure at 1.5%, although naturally your social demographic and lifestyle may cause that much higher or even lower. So, generally speaking, the chance of getting an STD is low in the first place, and likely much lower from engaging in oral sex.

Of course, condoms (and dental dams when appropriate) can lower the risk of STD transmission with oral sex, as they do with sex; and on the flip side, the more partners you have, the greater your risk is. So also is patronizing sex pros, instead of having oral sex with the boy or girl next door.

The safest bet, clearly, is to maintain a long-term exclusive sexual relationship with a single partner, where the two partners have tested “clean,” that is a recipe pretty much sure to be STD-free. But how realistic is that? The newest “infidelity” stats reveal that around a third of married folks cheat on their spouses, with men leading the numbers, but plenty of girls step out on their hubs, also.

Even though many find those numbers depressing, at least we could sleep well at night (following oral sex) knowing that no quantity of sex or infidelity will give anybody diabetes.

This isn’t a medical advice column. We’re PWDs publicly and publicly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we’re not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are just a portion of your prescription. You still need the professional guidance, treatment, and maintenance of a licensed medical professional.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog concentrated on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn’t stick to Healthline’s editorial instructions. To learn more regarding Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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