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Sexual dysfunction and diabetes

Sex is an integral part of the relationship between men and women. It?s complex and fraught with emotions. It?s never as straight forward as it?s portrayed on television. And for this reason many men who have trouble with erectile dysfunction don?t visit their doctor to discover ways to treat or stop the disorder.

Sexual dysfunction and diabetes are conditions that more often than not, occur together. Of all men with diabetes 80% over the age of 65 will suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) as opposed to the estimated 22-25% of the general population. In approximately 20% of the cases diabetes is diagnosed in a man because he presented at the doctors office with ED.

When ED is left untreated it can erode the quality of life for both partners. Sexual dysfunction and diabetes can increase the level of stress and frustration. The discouragement can trigger depression and even make it less likely that the management of the diabetes is attended to properly.

Almost all men suffer some degree of erectle dysfunction in their life. But the ED that happens with diabetes is more long-term (over 3 months) and happens earlier in life ? approximately 10 to 15 years earlier than other men. The longer a man has had diabetes and the more severe the condition the more likely that he will also experience sexual dysfunction and diabetes.

ED is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection with sufficient rigidity to complete sexual intercourse. This means that the penis doesn?t get hard or stay hard enough. The reasons behind this condition are different when the causative agent is different. In sexual dysfunction and diabetes the blood supply to the penis can become disrupted because of vascular damage, there may be nerve damage and when there is poor blood glucose control there is also a problem with ED.

If the ED isn?t a result of diabetes it can also be a result of psychological dysfunction, liver disease, cardiac disease, trauma, depression or certain medications can affect ED.

But back to the sexual dysfunction and diabetes. When the issue is nerve dysfunction you may be emotional stimulated to have intercourse but the nerves that tell your penis who to react are damaged and there is no response. Poor blood glucose control will inhibit nitric oxide production. This nitric oxide prevents the pressure in the penis to rise high enough to close off the penile veins and allow an erection. Or with blood vessel damage the arteries that supply the pelvis and penis can become damaged which disrupts the ability to achieve or sustain an erection.

This type of damage isn?t inevitable and it can be stopped from worsening. The first thing to do is to know your diabetes and control it. You can also:

Talk to your doctor. You may be embarrassed but because this is such a common diabetes related problem your doctor won?t be surprised. Your doctor can help prevent or delay ED if you talk about it before it happens and can help determine if the ED is a result of diabetes or another condition.
Control your blood sugar to prevent nerve and blood vessel damage as well as issues with nitric oxide.
Don?t smoke! Tobacco causes blood vessels to narrow making the problems with ED even greater.
Alcohol damages the blood vessels which cause ED.
Consult a urologist ? specializing in sexual health and ED. They can identify reasons and recommend safe effective treatments.
Talk about it ? with your doctor, your significant other, a mental health professional. If stress and anxiety are the cause of ED or if they are a result of the ED, they will make the condition worse.
Reduce your cardiovascular risk and decrease the amount of damage to the blood vessels needed for an erection.

Sexual dysfunction and diabetes don?t have to impact your relationships. There are ways to prevent and delay the onset of any erectile dysfunction through consistent blood glucose control, well-balanced nutrition, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

· Registered
3,025 Posts
A very good post, thanks! I have had ED since 1989. I had had Type 1 for 44 years at that time. I tried Viagara and it caused a very unpleasant reaction and I was advised to not use it again. I was not interested in a penile implant so I gave up on having intercourse. Then I had prostrate cancer in 2003. It was discovered very early so I did not need surgery. I had radiation treatment. There is still an 80% chance of the cancer returning.

Janis Roszler has written a book "Sex and Diabetes" that you can buy from It is published by the ADA and is highly praised. This is the third in a series of books written by Janis.

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