The Lowdown on Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: How Are They Related?

by Steel Jones

Erectile dysfunction, also known as ED, frequently appears in men who have already developed type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Analytics say that men who have diabetes are more likely to suffer from ED than men without diabetes by 50%. Even though most men may develop ED with age, those who have diabetes will develop ED at least 5-10 years sooner.

Diabetes could cause multiple health issues or worsen pre-existing ones. ED usually manifests through insufficient blood flowing to the penis, psychological problems such as depression, or neurological problems.

Medical studies show a pattern in patients with diabetes, who share several likely causes for this condition.


  • Low testosterone levels. Testosterone is the most important hormone involved in sexual function in men, so the risk of developing ED because of low testosterone levels is very high. Also, it is said that 25% of diabetics don’t produce enough testosterone, potentially predisposing them to sexual dysfunction.
  • Damage to blood vessels. Microvascular disease is one of the most common causes of nephropathy, vision loss, and nerve pain. High glucose levels in the bloodstream decrease the elasticity of small blood vessels, making them prone to injury. This explains why damaging the blood vessels will make a possible erection harder to maintain. Therefore, ED is a common complication among those who cannot manage their diabetes.
  • The Lowdown on Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: How Are They Related?Depression. Studies show that people with diabetes have a higher risk of depression than people without this condition. The stress of managing diabetes can exhaust you. It’s easy to feel self-pity if you’re always seeking medical treatment or managing your diabetes. That can bleed into the bedroom in the form of the inability to have an erection.
  • Side effects from anti-diabetes medication. Anti-diabetes medication usually reduces the risks of strokes and other complications. Lowering the blood pressure may lead to ED because it makes it more challenging to have an erection.


Keeping ED under control

ED is just one of the many health conditions that diabetes develops into the human body. There are a lot of treatments available for diabetes, treatments that also help with ED, but following a particular treatment needs to be discussed with a doctor first because not all of the treatments may be suitable for your body.


Lifestyle Changes

One of the first steps when starting treatment for diabetes is to completely change your lifestyle. As a result, the treatment works better, but you will notice improvements in your overall health status, including ED.

  • Reducing fat and cholesterol consumption. High cholesterol is related to a high ED risk because a high level of cholesterol in your blood can thin out your blood vessels, increase blood pressure, and worsen diabetes.
  • The Lowdown on Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: How Are They Related?Exercising and losing weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small percentage of weight will help your body keep diabetes under control. Obese men could benefit from surgical gastric bypass interventions shown to relieve erectile dysfunction and diabetes in some patients.
  • Quitting smoking. Smoking is said to increase your blood pressure, which later can potentially lead to ED. High pressure within the small blood vessels in your penis will stop erections from forming. That combined with diabetes, which also increases blood pressure, is very dangerous and could lead to more life-threatening health issues.
  • Reducing stress. Diabetes has usually been linked to mental health issues. Having mental health issues weakens the immune system. Therefore, a weak immune system can make room for more physical health issues, ED being one of them. Behavioral therapy and counseling can be helpful in these situations.


Prescription medicines for ED

Prescription drugs for ED might be another option for patients whose ED has been found to not be linked to a particular medical condition. These drugs, such as Viagra or Cialis, work by boosting blood flow to the penis to promote more frequent and longer-lasting erections.

  • ED prescription drugs like sildenafil or its variants – Because these drugs act by increasing the blood flow, they can also be used to treat conditions such as hypertension.
  • Injectable treatments – Alprostadil is administered by injection at the base of the penis, which helps dilate blood vessels for better blood flow throughout the body. The increased blood flow, particularly around the base of the penis, helps create more erections. Alprostadil is also available in an insertable, which is applied to the genitals before sexual activity.
  • Testosterone therapy – Low T may cause ED. Lifestyle changes and proper nutrition helps boost T levels naturally. Otherwise, for severe cases, testosterone replacement therapy may be recommended.


Other treatments

Medicines may not be for everyone. Luckily, some devices might help diabetics manage ED. For instance, vacuum-powered erection-inducing devices help draw blood to the penis and force an erection. Penile implants may also be an option; however, note that this is a highly invasive procedure and entails surgery. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about going under the knife for erectile dysfunction and determine whether you must do so.


Other considerations

Before going on any treatment, consult your doctor. Since diabetes can cause various types of ED, so are the different treatments that can cure them. Many online articles may inform you about the condition or the treatments available. Still, you should always discuss this with a doctor before choosing to follow some unsure sources that could harm you instead of helping you. Lastly, when talking about personal life, honesty is the best policy. Be open about your ED issues with your partner. Sex is, after all, a critical and intimate step in your relationship, so it’s essential to feel comfortable and safe with your partner. Some options include couple counseling or some sort of support group if you think it may be beneficial.

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