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How to Have Sex with an Insulin Pump.

Don’t.  For the love of god, do not have sex with your insulin pump.  It’s an expensive insulin delivery device, and it’s not to be trifled with.

But if the Google search you made was to find out how to have sex with the insulin pump in the vicinity, then that’s a whole different take.  Because that topic comes up a lot in the women’s discussion groups that I’ve taken part in, and it was a particularly hot topic at the Diabetes Sisters conference earlier this month.  The same sorts of questions come up every time, from new pumpers and people considering adding a diabetes device to their management plan:

“How do you deal with wearing a device when you’re trying to be, like, naked?”
“Do you disconnect during intimacy?”
“Does it get in the way, physically?”
“Does it get in the way, emotionally?”

(And, for the record, I love that these questions get asked.  And the best part is, they’re asked in rooms full of women who have either met for the first time that day or haven’t even formally met yet.  Diabetes, for all its chaos, does bring a certain level of discussion comfort and camaraderie, and I love that.  Love.)

Insulin pump = sexy time?

“How do you deal with wearing a device when you’re trying to be, like, naked?”

This was a tough hurdle for me, because I went so long without wearing any devices.  Diagnosed as a kid and not pumping until 2004 or CGM’ing until 2006, I spent a big part of my diabetes life without any external “symptoms,” so to speak.  Initially, I needed to be comfortable with my device(s) before I could expect anyone else to be, and that did take some time.  But I like the “no big deal” philosophy to these moments.  If I give the impression that these devices aren’t a big deal and should be taken as a small part of the bigger whole, then I hope my partner will follow suit.  For the most part, wearing a pump and a CGM isn’t something I feel self-conscious about, but being honest, there are days when I want to rip them both off and throw them across the room in pursuit of feeling truly ‘naked.’  I don’t like having these artificial bits and pieces stuck to me all the time, but I try to keep tabs on the bigger picture, which is my overall health.  Sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.

“Do you disconnect during intimacy?”

Personally, I do.  I don’t like having anything connected to me during those moments, because it becomes a distraction.  I like feeling like diabetes is a back burner issue in the bedroom, or at least as much of one as I manage.  When I first started pumping, disconnecting felt awkward because I didn’t know how to make it feel sexy (“Oh, let me just slip out of my medical device and into something more comfortable,” never had the right tone to it.) and it took me out of the mood a little bit.  But once I was comfortable pumping, in all capacities, I was comfortable with this part, too.  Disconnecting is kind of like my “mating call” now, which is a bit strange but also ‘no big deal.’

“Does it get in the way, physically?

Not for me, because I’m already disconnecting.  And I take care to keep my devices as out-of-the-way as I can manage, keeping infusion sets on the back of my hip and sensors on my thighs, leaving my abdomen feeling “normal.”  Sometimes it gets in the way in the initial moments, like when it’s being disconnected and I’m trying to figure out where to stash it for the time being (bedside table? under a pillow? on the floor? It’s a tough device, but I’m not willing to throw a six thousand dollar medical device onto the floor with reckless abandon.), but for the most part, once it’s disconnected, I forget about it.  The trouble is sometimes remembering to reconnect afterwards.  Some women set the alarm on their pump to remind them, but I’m not even close to that organized.  Others set reminders on their phone.  I’ve never gone to bed without reconnecting, so I’m going to pretend that I will always remember?

“Does it get in the way, emotionally?”

Yes, at least enough so that I can’t outright say no.  Can’t lie – not being able to be completely naked (sans pump site and CGM transmitter, for me) is a weird feeling, and I always feel like I need to give Chris a head’s up as to where my devices are currently connected.  “Be careful of the site on my right arm,” or “My sensor is on the left,” sort of directions feel anti-intimacy, for me.  But that’s where the relationship with my husband comes into play – he makes me feel like diabetes is something we can openly discuss, so it makes device topography easier to disclose, knowing he’s not creeped out by this stuff.  The emotions about this sort of thing ebb and flow, just like emotions about diabetes in general, but it’s most important for me to be able to talk about it with Chris.  Being part of a team that allows for the emotional highs and lows helps keep devices from getting in the way, mentally.

You can have sex with your insulin pump … by your side.  Or on the bedside table.  Intimacy with diabetes requires a little forethought in addition to the foreplay (terrible pun), but it can be done.  Just don’t shag your actual pump, or you could end up with a different set of issues entirely.

41 Comments Post a comment
  1. Real talk. I love you. :)

    Insulin Pumper Pickup Line: “Hey baby, I wanna disconnect around midnight…care to join me?”

    05/23/13; 11:08 am
    • Is that a pump in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Oh, it’s a CGM?

      05/23/13; 11:22 am
    • anjay #

      i love it just want to meet now people

      11/13/13; 7:40 am
  2. Nick #

    Two words: Tubing. Bondage.

    05/23/13; 11:32 am
  3. Vicki #

    Being on the receiving end, no pun intended, there has been more than one omnipod dislodged from a tummy site. Humor is the best medicine. Woah, knocked your pump off again did I?

    I have found, as with all things Diabetes related, humor is the best answer. How else could a partner deal with all the random test strips, cookie crumbs, sweaty lows, crabby highs, etc. etc. When you love someone, attachments or not, you love all of them. In our home, beep beep, means I love you….

    05/23/13; 11:47 am
  4. This feels like a brave and daring post to me!

    AND because I thought it was so, so daring…I thought “When i first started pumping…” would end with something like…”I was sixteen, and still on MDI.”

    Of course I don’t know what this is like, but I do now how orgasmically wonderful it feels when someone speaks the unspoken thing that’s troubling me—this is a post for the hall of fame.

    05/23/13; 12:32 pm
  5. This article was written from a women’s perspective — which makes complete sense — but let me say that it’s no different from a man’s perspective. Except, maybe, for the fact that our clothing is a little less complex and disconnecting is a little easier.

    I often wait to disconnect until the absolute last possible moment (no, not THAT last possible moment) because I’m afraid of getting no basal for an undetermined period of time. Basically, when the side-by-side action ends and the top-and-bottom begins, it’s time to disconnect (before it gets bungee-pumped to God-knows-where). Usually it’s quick and easy, but sometimes I fumble with it, which can be embarrassing. And if I can’t reach my nightstand from where I am, I toss it towards a pillow on the ground, hoping that and the carpet will make for a nice soft landing.

    I’d think the connection-part of the infusion set still on my body would scratch, but my wife says it doesn’t. The sensor has never been a problem either, but the advantage of the Medtronic is that it’s smaller and not as boxy as the Dex — plus, I don’t wear it in particularly “interesting” areas.

    As for the CGM buzzing in the middle of the action? Total buzz-kill. I can’t deny that.

    05/23/13; 12:37 pm
    • This is way TMI but since you brought it up lol, there have been many times that my pump will beep my two hour alarm, or my CM will beep and one of us will say, ” Time’s up!” LOL #gottahavesenseofhumor

      05/24/13; 12:30 am
  6. I love that you never shy away from the awkward topics! Posts like this one are the reason I love the DOC so much.

    I forgot to reconnect once – woke up very early feeling gross with a BG >400. Since then, I’m always careful to leave my pump somewhere I can’t miss it, like tucked under my pillow with Dex (which I never fall asleep without checking one last time…)

    05/23/13; 12:49 pm
  7. If we’re hanging out, and you disconnent, and I start laughing, just ignore me.

    05/23/13; 12:55 pm
    • If I disconnect and you start laughing, I will feel rejected. ;)

      05/23/13; 1:10 pm
  8. “Be careful, it’s on my left arm” or whatever is always the worst for me. I’ll just take my pump off and put it on a bedside table or whatever, but the infusion site still gets in the way — even if we’re just watching Antiques Roadshow in bed and my husband tries to give me a little arm-rub.

    05/23/13; 1:34 pm
  9. Because I wear the OmniPod, there is no disconnect option unless you want to waste a whole pod and start over after all the action. I started wearing a pump before I met my fiance. He and I have been together for three years so now, it’s really no big deal. He has occasionally knocked a pod off (which can happen during an intimate moment or just hanging out on the couch), which upsets him much more than it upsets me – I feel like they’re built to be disposable so no biggie. But I have to say that the dudes I dated before him never cared about my pump either. I just told them what it was and they carried on – and remember I’m from San Diego and have dated everything from Surfer Bros to real estate suit -types. None of them care, especially if they’re getting some action! And now that I’m with someone for the long haul who met me with an insulin pump and has accepted that as part of my body, it’s truly no big deal. Agree with other readers that it’s often most annoying to me, not others.

    05/23/13; 1:44 pm
  10. It was pretty awkward for awhile when I stated wearing the OmniPod, but after a few pump bumps, it smoothed out so when I started using the Dexcom there weren’t any sensor issues. My husband sometimes forgets that every 3 days it’s in a new place.

    05/23/13; 2:04 pm
  11. The “mating call” reference had me in stitches. Love you lady!

    05/23/13; 5:05 pm
  12. Tracy #

    Whenever the stars align, and I’m changing sets at night, I’ll leave it off. “I’m free!” For at least a little bit of time. It feels so nice to be intimate with out my “Borg” parts. :)

    05/23/13; 5:32 pm
  13. Am I the only one who stays connected the whole time?

    My pump, my partner and I – we make a very happy threesome and so far there have been no mishaps. We don’t even notice the pump and I never have to worry about forgetting to reconnect afterwards. Win win.

    05/23/13; 6:56 pm
    • Nope, not just you! When I was at the Diabetes Sisters conference, and everyone was talking about how they were so careful to test beforehand and not leave it off too long and etc. etc. etc., I was just like. . .yeah, I don’t have to worry about any of that, because it stays on for the most part.

      05/24/13; 10:20 am
  14. Rita Marie #

    You mention that you’ve taken part in women’s discussion groups….are these groups at conferences? Online? I’d be interested becoming involved with something like that.
    Questions like these aren’t necessarily the first thing that came to mind when considering the pump, and they’re not really something I’d go to my endo or DNE with.
    …that’s why I love your blog. Just wondering if you could recommend any other resources.
    Thanks for your humor, honesty, and wisdom!

    05/23/13; 8:31 pm
    • This particular discussion took place at a DiabetesSisters.org conference, but this topic comes up in JDRF symposiums, CWD events, plain-old diabetes meet-ups, and online. If there are questions that you have that you’d like to see addressed, you can feel free to post them here? Crowdsourcing info is wicked helpful, IMO. :)

      05/23/13; 10:23 pm
  15. Jenny #

    Loved the discussion in Raleigh on this topic, and your follow up! Such a universal issue, but also mostly a non-issue in my experience. Many options; find the one that works for you; move on.

    05/23/13; 11:30 pm
  16. Bill #

    Pump comes off almost all the time for sex. For years on the pump I never used those infusion site caps for anything even though they come in every package. However, for the last several years now I’ve kept a glass on my dresser with a few dozen of them in it so I can cap off my site when I disconnect my pump during sex. No longer does my girlfriend get scratched or my site get caught on sheets & blankets.

    05/24/13; 12:08 am
  17. Hadi El Heneidi #

    Great post! I love that you called disconnecting your pump your mating call – totally understand where you’re coming from. Just the other day I was talking with a fellow T1D friend exchanging pump sexy time lines – the winner being

    “Basal off. Game on.”

    I think it’s great that you and your husband share so openly about diabetes like where your CGM or pump sites are. An ex of mine had the best term for asking me where my site was. Before putting her arms around me she would ask:

    “Where’s the NFZ…no fly zone”. So cute, nurturing and legit funny.

    Thank you for this awesome post.

    05/24/13; 12:08 am
  18. I once had a boyfriend bite my insertion site in the heat of the moment… now that’s a pain you never forget!

    05/24/13; 12:09 am
  19. Patricia #

    Oh I love this post! Honest and the truth :-D People without diabetes always asked me “…then how do you do that with your insulin pump and like the shower?” And I always answer “we’ll I can disconnect it so we can be intimate”. Because that’s the actuall question that people wanted to asked ;-)

    My husband said the other day: “I’d rather like you with you pump site and cgm than not have you at all!”

    Thanks Kerri!

    05/24/13; 12:12 am
  20. “Mating call” LOVE it. And so relatable. lol

    Sometimes I disconnect, other times I lay it next to me, but still connected and out of the way. And I totally do the same thing where I feel like I have to say where my devices are connected. Can be a buzz kill… But just trying to avoid said devices being unnecessarily ripped out. :/

    05/24/13; 12:34 am
  21. Marlee #

    I taught my last boyfriend how to disconnect my pump so sometimes he would do it for me. It was pretty hot hehe.

    05/24/13; 7:40 am
  22. Sari #

    It’s even more exciting when both people have a pump!

    05/24/13; 7:52 am
  23. Thanks for posting about this… thanks for demystifying this topic.

    Truth: Whenever she’s in the room when I disconnect, Maureen gets that look in her eye… so in that respect, it’s kinda foreplay.

    05/24/13; 9:00 am
  24. The best advice is in the first 2 sentences. Great post!

    05/24/13; 10:09 am
  25. Holly Allen #

    Loved this! If I’m holding my disconnected tubing, the hubs knows that he better get upstairs quick! I seem to switch up between taking it off and leaving it on. My hubby said he doesn’t mind if I’m attached and my sites aren’t necessarily places to be avoided.

    05/24/13; 4:11 pm
  26. Jenni #

    Your perspective is insightful. I like the humor that resonates in your writing as well. Diabetes can be taxing and frustrating so it’s important to discuss, even intimate details because it provides support to others. You may feel awkward wearing your device while trying to get close with your partner but you are not alone! It’s perfectly natural and even beautiful to feel comfortable enough to keep it on. Taking it off may help you relax though. Great article.

    05/25/13; 4:07 pm
  27. I am glad I read your whole post! When I saw the title “how to have sex with an insulin pump” I got very worried. I started doubting how normal you were; trying have sex with inanimate objects and all.

    All jokes aside I never even thought about how intercourse would change due to diabetic gadgetry. I do not have a pump yet but I have a CGM and this topic will be good to keep in mind when I decide to get a pump or not.

    05/27/13; 4:17 pm
  28. Wait, we’re not supposed to have sex with our pumps? Well, then why else would it vibrate?!

    I kid, I kid.

    Thanks for the great post, Kerri. In my relationship, I know I notice it much more than my husband does.

    05/28/13; 11:01 am
  29. YES! Haha – don’t have a pump, but I tend to get self-conscious about the Dexcom, esp. when it’s near the “belt-area” ;) I definitely agree with all of you who say that we probably care a lot more than our partners do..

    I’m lucky my husband is curious about all those devices because he’s a physicist and thinks it’s all “cool gadgetry” .

    Here’s to raising a glass (or pipe or whatever) to awesome SOs who are loving, understanding, and open to diabetes banter. <3

    05/28/13; 1:04 pm
  30. Great blog article, the first two sentences made me smile.

    It’s good to read how other people experience this ‘issue’.

    05/29/13; 8:10 am
  31. Emily #

    OMG, this is my favorite conversation EVER. So funny, and so true!!

    At the beginning of an intimate moment my girlfriend always feels around for where my gadgets are (she knows the variety of likely spots, of course), so she can be careful with them. I don’t always disconnect my pump, and I must say that I really appreciate that she leaves that entirely up to me. When I leave it on we eventually get tangled and get a good laugh about the awkwardness of it, but she never asks me to remove it.

    05/31/13; 1:28 pm
  32. jami #

    Love love love love….. LOVE this

    12/18/13; 4:45 pm

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Diabetes and Sex: When Hypoglycemia Gets in the Way
  2. If I Knew Then: Insulin Pumps. - Six Until Me - diabetes blog

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