Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection sturdy enough during sex. It is common in men who have diabetes, especially those with type 2 diabetes. It can stem from damage to nerves and blood vessels occurred by poor long-term blood sugar control.

Erectile dysfunction can also be linked to other conditions common in men with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

It might occur earlier in men with diabetes than in men without the disease. Difficulty maintaining an erection might even precede the diabetes diagnosis.

Having erectile dysfunction can be a real challenge for most men. It can leave you and your partner feeling frustrated and discouraged. 

Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction And Diabetes

The connection between diabetes and erectile dysfunction is related to your circulation and nervous system. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can damage small blood vessels and nerves. 

Damage to the nerves that control sexual stimulation and response can impede a man’s ability to achieve an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Reduced blood flow from damaged blood vessels can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.

Lower Sex Drive Or Male Libido

Lots of things can affect how interested you are in having sex. This is called male libido or sex drive and sometimes diabetes can lower your male libido. 

Sometimes being tired, depressed, or and having low self-esteem can affect how much you feel like having sex. As well as any medication you are taking, or any treatment you have had in the past.

The emotions you are feeling have a big impact too. If you are feeling embarrassed because of your pump or anxious about having a hypo, this can make you feel like you don’t want to have sex.

To get your sex life back on track, you can take the following steps to cope with erectile dysfunction that is known to be one of the major diabetes complications:

1. Control Your Blood Sugar Through Your Diet

Maintaining a diabetes-friendly diet will help you better control your blood sugar levels and lessen the amount of damage to your blood vessels and nerves. 

A proper diet geared at keeping your blood sugar levels in check can also improve your energy levels and mood, both of which can help reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. You may consider working with a dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator to help adjust your eating style.

Also Read: Are Diabetic Patients at Higher Risk Of Contracting COVID-19?

2. Some Other Important Lifestyle Changes

Treatment of diabetes relies on lifestyle changes, many of which not only help to reduce blood glucose but by doing so can strengthen the body and reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. 

In clinical studies, better glucose control was shown to improve erections and reduce the risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

(i) Quit Smoking

Smoking increases your risk for erectile dysfunction by raising your blood pressure, which over time, can damage small blood vessels in your penis. It’s even worse if you have diabetes, which itself can cause blood vessel damage.

(ii) Exercise And Lose Weight

Losing weight is important for men with diabetes who are obese or overweight, as it can help lower blood glucose levels and increase blood circulation. These improvements can also help with erectile dysfunction. In clinical studies, weight loss has been a great means of restoring sexual function for many men.

(iii) Reduce Stress

Diabetes can lead to mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, which can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction through psychological stress. Overcoming stress can be accomplished in multiple ways, such as through meditation or counseling.

3. Medication Options

If a doctor determines that you have erectile dysfunction and it is not the result of another health issue, they may prescribe one or more medications to help. Most of these work by helping to increase blood flow to the penis.

(i) Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), or Levitra (vardenafil) 

These drugs help with erections by increasing blood flow into the penis. Each of these drugs has pros and cons. 

(ii) Caverject (alprostadil)

This drug is directly injected into the penis to cause an erection. It works more than 70% of the time, though based on the fact that a needle needs to be injected into your penis, most men prefer trying an oral medication before using this. 

Unlike the medications above, Caverject does not require you to be sexually stimulated to cause an erection and will generally work right away.

(iii) Muse (alprostadil)

 Instead of an injection, Muse is inserted up the urethra 5 to 10 minutes before sex and will cause an erection that can last about an hour.

(iv) Testosterone Therapy

For men who have low testosterone levels, testosterone replacement therapy may be used to help increase sex drive and treat ED. However, since testosterone therapy is known to potentially cause heart problems, and diabetes also increases the risk of heart problems, this is something that should be carefully considered with your doctor and closely monitored.

4. Other Types Of Treatments

(i) Hormone Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy is recommended for men with erectile dysfunction who show low levels of testosterone.

(ii) Penile Injection Therapy

Injection of alprostadil directly into the penis before intercourse has been approved for men who do not respond to oral drug therapy. This hormone injection increases the blood supply to the penis to produce an erection.

(iii) Vacuum Pump Therapy

A plastic tube connected to a pump is placed over the penis. The pump empties the air out of the tube and this causes blood to be drawn into the penis. A ring is then placed on the base of the penis to maintain the erection during intercourse.

(iv) Penile Prosthesis

This is only considered when all other treatment options have failed as it requires major surgery. An inflatable rod is implanted into the penis to make it erect for intercourse.

(v) Psychological Support

If erectile dysfunction is caused by psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, the patient may benefit from counseling.


Tags: How Can A Diabetic Overcome Erectile Dysfunction, Diabetic Erectile Dysfunction Reversal, Type 1 Diabetes And Erectile Dysfunction, How Does Diabetes Affect A Man Sexually

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.