While diabetes and erectile dysfunction (ED) are two different health conditions, they often go hand-in-hand. It’s particularly common for men with type 2 diabetes to struggle with ED. Want to learn more about the link between diabetes and erectile dysfunction? Keep reading.
What’s the Link Between Diabetes and ED?
The connection between diabetes and erectile dysfunction is related to blood flow, circulation, and the nervous system. Diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar in your bloodstream. If you have poorly controlled blood sugar levels, this can damage your small blood vessels, circulation, and nerves. This damage can impact the nerves that control sexual response and result in ED.
In addition, to achieve an erection, blood needs to flow to the penis. However, diabetes impacts blood flow around the body and can prevent blood from reaching the penis.
Other Reasons Why Diabetes Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction
There are other side effects from diabetes that may contribute to ED.
Many men who use an insulin pump may feel self-conscious. In addition, the energy expended managing diabetes and related health conditions can take a toll on your mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Diabetes can cause changes in your hormones, like testosterone, which can impact libido and the ability to achieve an erection. According to the CDC, men with diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone levels than men who don’t have diabetes.
Medication Side Effects
Certain medications may stifle your libido or create ED challenges, like those for high blood pressure or managing depression.
High levels of glucose in your blood can damage nerves. The tip of the penis is covered in nerves; if they become damaged, it could result in decreased sexual sensation. If sex becomes painful or challenging, this could also lead to low libido and ED.
How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction in Diabetics?
The straightforward answer is very common. Research from the Boston University Medical Center suggests that about half the men who have been diagnosed with diabetes will develop ED within five to 10 years of their diabetes diagnosis.
Treating Diabetes ED
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes and erectile dysfunction, there are a few different treatment routes that you could take. Speak to your doctor about the option that would be the best for you and your situation.
You can take prescription medications to help improve blood flow to the penis. The most common are sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra).
If an oral medicine isn’t a good option, another choice is a small suppository that you insert into the tip of your penis before sex. Another option is to inject medication directly into the base or side of your penis, which works similarly to oral medications and increases blood flow into the penis.
There are also alternative ED treatments that don’t require any medication. For example, a vacuum constriction device, or a penis pump, is a hollow tube that goes over the penis that draws blood into the penis to create an erection. Or, in cases where medicine or a penis pump isn’t a good fit, surgery to insert a small implant into the penis may be an option.
Diabetes, Erectile Dysfunction, and a Healthy Lifestyle
Recent research has revealed that those with diabetes ED might improve their symptoms for both health conditions by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Changes to your lifestyle could see huge results, for example:
- Quit smoking – Smoking tobacco narrows your blood vessels, leading to or worsening ED symptoms. In addition, smoking can also decrease your nitric oxide levels, which is what signals your body to allow blood flow into your penis.
- Include exercise in your daily routine – Physical activity can help with underlying conditions that play a part in diabetes and ED in several ways, such as reducing stress, losing weight, and increasing blood flow.
- Limit or reduce your alcohol intake – Drinking alcohol in excess can contribute to ED; this is because alcohol makes the complications of diabetes worse.
Is Diabetic ED Permanent?
The good news is that while diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction, it’s also one of the most treatable side effects of diabetes. In fact, over 95% of cases can be successfully treated.
Many people struggle to speak to their doctor about sexual health; however, if left untreated, ED can impact your relationships, mental health, and self-esteem. But the great news is that there are many treatment options for diabetes and ED, and your doctor can help you to navigate them.
If you’re worried about diabetes and erectile dysfunction, consider speaking with a men’s health specialist. Connecting with a doctor in a discrete and private setting has never been easier; here at Opt Health, we specialize in men’s health and wellbeing, helping you to feel like you again.
Schedule an appointment with a doctor, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medication delivered directly to your door. Now, you can improve your wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality in the comfort of your own home.