Nov 06, 2015
Erectile dysfunction can become a problem for many male diabetics. According to diabetes.co.uk up to 75 percent of males living with diabetes* will experience some level of erection difficulty during their lifetime. This renders male diabetics two to three times more likely* to develop ED than those who do not have the disease.
Sexual function plays an important role in helping people to maintain a good quality of life. Therefore any diabetics who notice a worsening in the quality of their erections should seek medical input on the matter.
Diabetes is a condition where the body is not able to properly regulate blood sugar levels. The condition is broken down into two types: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is more prevalent globally and according to the World Health Organisation forms 90 percent of all diabetes cases. You are more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction if you have type 2 diabetes than if you have the type 1 version of the condition.
You may be left wondering why a condition caused by uncontrolled glucose levels can have such an impact on erection function. The truth is the reasons behind diabetic induced erectile dysfunction (DIED) can be numerous and don’t necessarily stem from one specific causal factor. The problem can be linked to an impaired nervous system, muscle deterioration and damaged blood vessels.
Diabetes can have a significant effect on the blood supply to all major organs such as the heart, brain, eyes, kidneys and in some cases the penis. A lack of blood flow can result in poorly sustained erections. Blood is transported through our body via blood vessels, however, the high amount of glucose in diabetics’ blood can damage these essential vessels.
In order to keep blood vessels as healthy as possible you should:
- Maintain your blood glucose levels within the accepted range.
- Take part in regular exercise.
- Stop smoking, if you smoke.
- Eat a healthy and well balanced diet.
- Keep alcohol and stress to a minimum.
- Lose weight, if you are overweight.
There are several factors that can render male diabetics more at risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Firstly, one study identified a strong correlation* between those who have poor glycaemic control and the development of erection difficulties. This means that if your sugar levels are not kept within an acceptable zone, you may be more likely to struggle to obtain sufficient erections.
Unstable metabolic control* can also contribute to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. This refers to your body’s ability to convert the food that you eat into fuel. Choosing to live as healthy a life as possible can potentially help prevent poor metabolic control.
Finally, the older you are and the longer you have been living with diabetes also plays a part in DIED. Unfortunately you cannot control these two factors but once again leading a healthy lifestyle can help minimise the effects.
There are several treatment options available for diabetics who experience erectile difficulties. Your doctor may initiate a plan in order to better control your diabetes as treating the underlying condition can sometimes have a positive effect on erections.
The ED treatments currently available can be broken down into oral and non-oral treatments. The oral medications are known as PDE-5 inhibitors and include Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Spedra. They work by relaxing the muscles at the entrance of the penis to allow a greater blood flow to the area. This type of drug may not prove as effective* for diabetics as it does for non-diabetics but it is a suitable course of treatment to try.
Non-oral options include a penile suppository known as MUSE, a topical cream called Vitaros and self-administered injections named Caverject. All three treatments have been found to enhance erectile performance in diabetic men*.
Erectile dysfunction should be treated seriously in all circumstances as it can be an indicator of other potentially dangerous underlying health conditions. They can range from heart disease and hypertension to stroke and hyperthyroidism.
The range of erectile dysfunction treatments currently on offer is fairly wide and still increasing. This means that all men diagnosed with diabetic induced erectile dysfunction should be able to benefit from some form of treatment.
*Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction. Diabetes.co.uk
*Sexual and Urologic Problems of Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (December 2008)
*Diabetes. World Health Organisation. (January 2015)
*New treatment options for erectile dysfunction in patients with diabetes mellitus. Author: Basu et al. (2004)
*PDE5 inhibitors: targeting erectile dysfunction in diabetics. Author: Francis et al. (December 2011)
*Intracavernosal alprostadil is effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in diabetic men. Author: Heaton et al. (December 2001)