Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

by Cindy

Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

It’s a question that is on every man’s mind at the time of diagnosis of diabetes but it is also a question that often goes unasked due to embarrassment.  It is a well-known fact that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause numerous complications, such as nerve damage, retinopathy and kidney disease.  However, many men wonder if diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction?

Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem that occurs in men as they age.  Unfortunately, chronic health conditions can accelerate this problem and cause significant stress and embarrassment.  It is well-known that diabetes can cause symptoms of erectile dysfunction after years of uncontrolled glucose levels.  A study called the Massachuesetts Male Aging Study found that up to 75% of men with diabetes had some complaints of erectile dysfunction. This study illustrates that erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes is much more common than most people may think!

Risk factors for erectile dysfunction in diabetic males include:

  • Age
  • How Long Patient Had Diabetes For
  • Glycemic Control
  • Prescence of Other Complications of Diabetes
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction in Diabetes

Ninety percent of diabetic patients with erectile dysfunction have this condition due to to either decreased blood flow, nerve dysfunction, or a combination of both.  Other causes of erectile dysfunction in diabetic patients include hormonal abnormalities, medications and psychological issues.  Many different medications that are commonly prescribed to patients with diabetes to control other health conditions can contribute to this problem.  These medications include multiple blood pressure medications, anti-depressants, allergy medications and anti-fungals.  Alcohol and illicit drug use can also exacerbate erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options

Proper diagnosis of the underlying cause for this issue is necessary for treating erectile dysfunction in the diabetic patient.  There are several different options for treatment, including prescription medications, natural supplements and non-pharmacological therapies.

  • Non-Pharmacological Therapies: Non-pharmacological therapies may be a good option for patients who cannot take certain medications due to allergies, drug interactions or chronic health conditions.  Examples of nonpharmacological therapies for erectile dysfunction include constriction rings, vacuum pump devices, and penile implants.  These types of therapies may offer fewer side effects than traditional medications or supplements.
  • Medications:  Over the years numerous prescription medications have been developed to treat erectile dysfunction and these medications are typically appropriate for diabetic patients.  Other options include injectable therapies but some of these injections are less effective in diabetic patients. Patients should ask their doctor for information about medications to treat diabetic erectile dysfunction if they are interested in this type of therapy. 
  • Yohimbine:  This substance may be less effective in diabetic patients than in the general population.  Most patients will notice an improvement in symptoms within the first month of taking yohimbine.  Evidence supporting its effectiveness is not entirely supportive.

For patients with diabetes who are concerned about preventing complications like erectile dysfunction it is important to aim for good glycemic control by sticking to the prescribed diet, exercise and medications.  It is important to control sugar levels as quickly as possible because once this damage is done, it is not reversible.  For more information about how diabetes affects that body explore Know Your Sugar!

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