Technically, diabetes and erectile are two separate conditions and there are many causes of erectile dysfunction, both physical and psychological, diabetes is one of the most common causes.
Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to have acceptable sexual intercourse. Studies into erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes show that the incidence of ED ranges from 35 - 75% as opposed to 26% of the male population as a whole. It has also been shown that the onset of ED in men with diabetes is 10 - 15 years sooner than the male population in general.
In addition, it has been established in a study carried out by the Chinese University of Hong Kong that men with diabetes who are experiencing erectile dysfunction are about one and a half times more likely to have some kind of cardiac ‘event’ which includes a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or surgery to treat heart disease.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes - in this type of diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. This is as a result of an autoimmune response whereby the body’s own defence mechanism attacks and destroys the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. About 10% of diabetes sufferers have type 1 and although it can develop at any age it is more commonly seen in children and young adults. Treatment of type one diabetes is via insulin which is used to control blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes - this type of diabetes accounts for around 90% of diabetes seen in the population and commonly develops in people aged over 45. This, however, is changing and type 2 is more commonly being seen in children, adolescents and young adults as a direct result of increasing obesity, inactivity and poor diet. The body has become resistant to insulin; as a result, blood glucose levels continue to rise to force the pancreas to release more insulin. Eventually, this can exhaust the pancreas and so less and less insulin is produced causing blood sugar to rise even more. Type 2 diabetes management is mainly by eating a healthy diet, increasing activity levels and generally keeping fit. If necessary, oral medication and insulin may be prescribed to help control blood sugar levels.
There are a number of complications that are associated with diabetes:
If this is not treated then a person can lose all sensation in the limbs. Nerve damage in the digestive organs can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, nauseous or constipation. If the nerve damage is in the reproductive organs of men it can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Although we have discussed to some extent how diabetes can be involved in causing erectile dysfunction, the mechanics can be quite complex. As we have covered the fact that a reduced blood supply to the penis and nerve damage to the genitals can result in erectile dysfunction occurring, in addition, diabetic men tend to have lower levels of testosterone than men who are not diabetic, meaning that their sex drive may be reduced.
There are also other conditions, more commonly seen in diabetic men, that will contribute to erectile dysfunction. These include:
In addition, there may be contributory lifestyle factors such as:
A number of erectile medications are now available which may be suitable for use by diabetic men. They include:
Some drugs used when treating diabetes may interact with erectile medication and they include blood thinners and alpha-blockers so it is important that before embarking on the use of any of these drugs you seek the advice of a medical professional.
Other treatments include:
The better your diabetes is controlled, the lower the risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Other lifestyle measures which can be considered include:
Diabetes is a chronic condition and despite the fact that it can be controlled with medication and diet, it is a condition which a person has for life. Erectile dysfunction is not a foregone conclusion and there are sufferers who do not experience this problem.
Taking good care of your health, not smoking, keeping alcohol consumption down to a minimum, reducing stress and getting enough sleep will all help to prevent erectile dysfunction ever becoming an issue.
Find out more about the treatments mentioned in this article below:
Effective for up to 4 hours
For daily or intermittent use
Effective for up to 5 hours
Works in 15-30 minutes
Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Vardenafil
Over the counter treatment
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