Diabetes is on the rise in the United States and has become one of the most common chronic diseases in the world.
Men with diabetes have to manage their blood glucose levels to prevent long-term health problems.
Some of the health issues caused by diabetes are kidney disease, eye damage, nerve pain, and heart problems.
Diabetes can also cause issues that impact men’s lives more emotionally, like problems achieving or maintaining an erection.
If you’re one of the 300+ million Americans living with Type 2 diabetes, maintaining an erection for sex might not be possible.
But, does diabetes cause erectile dysfunction?
We’ll take a look at that question and more in the article below.
Diabetes And Erectile Dysfunction
Diabetes can cause ED because it can damage the blood supply to the penis, affect the blood flow, and cause nerve damage to the nerves that control an erection.
When a man becomes sexually aroused, nitric oxide is released into the bloodstream.
This chemical tells the arteries and the muscles in the penis to relax, allowing for more blood flow into the penis, giving the man an erection.
However, men with diabetes struggle with swings in their blood sugar levels, especially if their diabetes isn’t managed correctly.
Based on a recent study, the risk of sexual dysfunction is 50% higher for men with diabetes compared to men without diabetes.
Many men will experience ED as they get older, but men with diabetes have been shown to develop this condition 5-10 years sooner than men without diabetes.
ED can be related to insufficient blood flow to the penis, emotional issues such as depression or anxiety, or problems with the nerves to the penis.
Diabetes can make these issues worse or even cause them in the first place.
Current data has identified several likely risk factors for erectile dysfunction in patients, specifically with diabetes.
- Damaged blood vessels – Diabetes leads to more sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. This can damage small blood vessels. This often leads to kidney damage, loss of vision, vascular diseases, and nerve pain. In addition, damage to small blood vessels in the penis makes it harder to have and maintain an erection. That’s why ED is worse in men with long-lasting, uncontrolled diabetes.
- Low testosterone levels – It’s estimated that 25% of men with diabetes have low testosterone levels. Testosterone has a significant impact on sexual function in men, so low testosterone caused by diabetes can lead to ED.
- Depression – Men with diabetes can become depressed or have anxiety due to the stress of managing their disease. Depression on its own can lead to various issues with having an erection and other issues with their sexual health. Like depression, anxiety can cause a sudden loss of an erection during sex or have difficulty getting an erection altogether.
- Medication side effects – Men with diabetes are often treated with medications to help with their diabetes and reduce their risk of heart problems or complications from diabetes. Unfortunately, some of these medications can cause ED by lowering blood pressure or causing other side effects that make achieving an erection difficult. Other prescription drugs, like blood pressure drugs, can also contribute to ED.
What Treatments Are Available for Men With Diabetes and ED?
Many men wonder if erectile dysfunction can be cured or how it is treated. There are several oral medications men can take if they are dealing with diabetes and ED, including:
- avanafil (Stendra)
- sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra)
- tadalafil (Adcirca,Cialis)
- vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
But since men with diabetes also tend to have heart problems, these medications may not be appropriate.
They could cause dangerous interactions with some heart medicines.
Additional treatments men with ED and Diabetes can consider are:
- intracavernous injection therapy
- vacuum device
- venous constriction devices (for venous leak syndrome)
- intraurethral therapy
- penile prosthesis (inflatable and malleable)
- sex therapy
The best erectile dysfunction treatment for you depends on many factors, including your overall health and your ability to tolerate the treatment.
Treating diabetes relies heavily on lifestyle changes that will help reduce blood glucose.
These lifestyle changes will also strengthen the body and reduce the risk of ED.
Clinical studies have found that better glucose control helps keep an erection firm and lower the chances of developing ED.
Here are a few lifestyle changes that can help with diabetes and ED.
- Stop smoking– Smoking increases your risk of erectile dysfunction by raising your blood pressure, which can damage small blood vessels in your penis. Healthy blood vessels are required to maintain a firm erection. This is worsened if you have diabetes, which itself can cause blood vessel damage.
- Reduce fat and cholesterol in your diet – Research shows that men with high cholesterol have a higher risk of ED. Making dietary changes to lower fat and cholesterol levels can help reduce your risk.
- Exercise and lose weight – Losing weight is critical for men with diabetes who are obese or overweight. Losing weight helps lower blood glucose levels and increase blood circulation. These improvements can also help with ED. In addition, weight loss has been an excellent means of restoring sexual function for many men and improving your overall quality of life.
- Reduce stress – Diabetes has been known to lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety. Depression and anxiety can cause or worsen ED through psychological stress. Reducing and overcoming stress can help with your diabetes and ED and can be accomplished in multiple ways like meditation or counseling.
Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
If you have diabetes and notice a change in the frequency or duration of your erections, you should speak with a specialist.
It may not be easy to bring up these issues, but if you can’t maintain an erection suitable for intercourse, you need to speak to a certified medical professional.
Reluctance to do so will prevent you from getting the help that you need.
Your ED specialist will review your medical history, including your sexual history, and assess your symptoms to diagnose ED
They will also perform a physical exam to check for nerve function and possible damage to nerves in the penis or testicles.
Blood tests and urine tests can also help diagnose problems such as diabetes or low testosterone.
Your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you to a healthcare professional that specializes in sexual dysfunction.
Several treatment options exist for ED.
If you haven’t experienced any ED symptoms but have diabetes, discuss the possibility of erectile dysfunction with your doctor.
They can help you determine which preventive measures you can take right now.
Talk To An Expert
Patients with diabetes are reluctant to discuss erectile dysfunction.
Don’t let embarrassment keep you from getting help because a small conversation can make a big difference.
If you have symptoms of ED, here’s what you should do:
- Be honest. Your ED specialist will consider the underlying causes of your erectile dysfunction and if there is a link between diabetes and ED. They will give you information about medication and other erectile dysfunction treatments.
- Ask what you can do to manage your diabetes. For example, improving your blood sugar levels can help prevent nerve and blood vessel damage, thus preventing erectile dysfunction. As a result, you will likely feel better overall and improve your quality of life.
- Ask about other health problems. Many men with diabetes tend to have other chronic conditions that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Speak with your doctor to ensure you’re addressing any other health problems.
- Check your medications. Give a list of your medications to your doctor so they can see if any that might be worsening your erectile problems, such as drugs used to treat depression or high blood pressure.
- Seek counseling. Depression, anxiety, and stress can cause or make erectile dysfunction worse. ED can also negatively impact your relationship with your partner. A psychologist, counselor, or another mental health specialist can help you and your partner find ways to cope.
Contact The ED Specialist At Choice Men’s Health
Many men with diabetes also struggle with erectile dysfunction.
If you are ready to tackle your ED head-on, you should see the ED specialists at Choice Men’s Health.
They can customize an ED treatment plan for you to lead a happier, healthier life.
If you have questions about erectile dysfunction, Choice Men’s Health in Atlanta, Georgia, has been helping men enjoy a healthy sex life for years.