Life does not always go according to plan. Routine can sometimes go out the window when there are spontaneous parties with friends, or a special home-cooked, carb-loaded meal you just cannot resist. When you’re trying to make new friends and meet potential partners, knowing who and when to tell about your diabetes can be tough. At times, just to ‘fit in’, it might seem easier to go into denial and pretend you don’t have diabetes.
But the reality is that you do, and there is nothing to be ashamed or worried about. If someone you are with someone who knows about your diabetes, and if you are looking after yourself at the same time, you are better off—you can have a safer and more relaxed time going out with friends or on dates!
“They stress anyway, but diabetes adds to it … every now and then chat to them, let them know you’re doing fine.” (Ruth, age 25)
It’s more than likely that your family members are the first people to know about your diabetes. Your family may be overprotective, and at times, it may feel like nagging or suffocating to you. It’s easier said than done, but try and remember that it’s only because they love you. They are the ones who will be there for you if and when you really need it.
“I didn’t tell anyone at first. Then I realised I had to, or they’d start thinking I was really weird.” (Anonymous)
If you spend any sort of quality time with your friend, it’s very likely that you will feel the need to tell them about your diabetes, or they will suspect something’s up when you keep disappearing and eating all the time. While this may be hard and you may want to be choosy about who you tell, you sometimes have to give your friends credit. If they are good mates, they’ll most likely understand and want to be there for you. You don’t have to give them all the information about it, but maybe just enough so they understand what diabetes is and know what to do if you have a hypo, so they can help you instead of freaking out.
Telling your partner
“Relationships are hard. You don’t want to share the baggage.” (Anonymous)
New relationships are full of highs, lows and insecurities. It can sometimes be really hard to work up the courage to tell a new partner about your diabetes. What if they freak out about it? It is usually a matter of timing, and only you can decide the right moment to tell them. You may need to consider whether you are being fair to them by not saying anything. How will they know what to do if you have a hypo, if you haven’t told them about it? Your diabetes is only a small part of who you are. If they know, then they can support you better and it might make for a few less awkward moments in the future.
Tips from young people with diabetes for…
- “Be honest that you have diabetes.” (Amanda, age 21)
- “Make sure partners know how to use hypo pen and teach them to recognise the signs of hypos/hypers.” (Anonymous)
- “It’s a pretty big leap of trust to divulge fears, secrets etc about diabetes. Just make sure that they know basic first aid (especially if you are drinking) and share when you feel that you’re ready.” (Holly, age 18)
“Like a big night, make sure you’re energised.” (Anonymous)
If you are thinking about having sex or are already sexually active, remember that sex is actually a form of exercise. As a person with diabetes, you need to think about the risk of hypos and consider ways to prevent them.
It might not be convenient but you may need to have a snack before sex so that you don’t get low and if you can check your levels, even better. Having some hypo food handy is also good, just in case.
One of the things that can affect people who have had diabetes for a while is erectile dysfunction (this is when a guy can’t have an erection or sustain an erection long enough to finish having sex). It’s unlikely that it will cause a problem for you in your teens or twenties, but if you find yourself with this problem, talk to your doctor or diabetes educator as they can help you sort it out.
A useful article on diabetes and sexual health can be found on the myDr website.
Read more in our fact sheet Sexual health and diabetes.
If you are ready for sex, you’ll need to consider the type of contraception to use in order to stay safe and avoid unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. If you have diabetes, some forms are more suitable than others.
To work out what contraception is best for you, talk to your doctor or diabetes educator.
Read more about contraceptive choices.