Adherence to Mediterranean diet and sexual function in women with type 2 diabetes

J Sex Med. 2010 May;7(5):1883-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01714.x. Epub 2010 Feb 25.


Introduction: There are no reported studies assessing the relation between diet and sexual function in women with diabetes.

Aim: In the present study, we explored the relation between consumption of a Mediterranean-type diet and sexual function in a population of type 2 diabetic women.

Methods: Patients with type 2 diabetes were enrolled if they had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for at least six months but less than 10 years, age 35-70 years, body mass index (BMI) of 24 or higher, HbA1c of 6.5% or higher, treatment with diet or oral drugs. All diabetic patients were invited to complete a food-frequency questionnaire and self-report measures of sexual function. A total of 595 (90.2%) of the 659 women completed both questionnaires and were analyzed in the present study.

Main outcome measures: Adherence to a Mediterranean diet was assessed by a 9-point scale that incorporated the salient characteristics of this diet (range of scores, 0-9, with higher scores indicating greater adherence). The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used for assessing the key dimensions of female sexual function.

Results: Diabetic women with the highest scores (6-9) had lower BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, a lower prevalence of depression, obesity and metabolic syndrome, a higher level of physical activity, and better glucose and lipid profiles than the diabetic women who scored <3 points on the scale. The proportion of sexually active women showed a significant increase across tertiles of adherence to Mediterranean diet (from 54.2% to 65.1%, P = 0.01). Based on the FSFI cutoff score for female sexual dysfunction (FSD) of 23, women with the highest score of adherence had a lower prevalence of sexual dysfunction as compared with women of lower tertiles (47.6%, 53.9%, and 57.8%, higher, middle, and lower tertile, respectively, P = 0.01). These associations remained significant after adjustment for many potential confounders.

Conclusions: In women with type 2 diabetes, greater adherence to Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower prevalence of FSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diet, Mediterranean / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio