Why diabetes can lead to erectile dysfunction?
One of the lesser-known side effects of diabetes is an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. Experts think that circulatory problems from diabetes affect blood flow to the penis and make it difficult to get an erection. People with diabetes are three times more likely to have trouble maintaining an erection than people who don’t have diabetes.
Learn more about how to manage erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes.
Erectile dysfunction is a frustrating condition where your penis cannot get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. It’s hard to admit that it’s a problem, but it’s more common than you might think. Nearly 30 million people in the United States have erectile dysfunction. Certain medications and some health conditions, including diabetes, significantly increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Erections are caused by an increase in blood flow to the penis. As the blood fills the erectile tissue, the tissue swells and gets larger and firmer. The swelling compresses the veins that let blood flow out of the penis, so your penis stays erect.
Diabetes can cause problems with blood flow in your extremities, including your penis. High blood sugar associated with diabetes may cause damage to blood vessels which affects blood circulation. If there is damage to the blood vessels in your genital area, you may have trouble becoming erect.
Other health conditions contribute to erectile dysfunction. Heart disease, vascular disease, prostate cancer, certain medications, and a history of smoking all contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Treatments for erectile dysfunction?
If you have erectile dysfunction, you should talk to your doctor about treatment options. They will help you make sure your diabetes is under control to prevent future damage to blood vessels. While there is no specific treatment to reverse damage to blood vessels caused by diabetes, there are several options to help you have erections.
There are a variety of oral medications that improve your ability to get erections. The medicines work by increasing blood flow to your penis so you can get erect from sexual stimulus. All the medications require a doctor’s prescription. Your doctor will help you choose which one will work best for you.
Injections or Suppositories
If oral erectile dysfunction medications aren’t the best option for you, your doctor might suggest an injectable medication. To use it, you will need to use a needle and syringe to inject the medicine into the base of your penis right before sex. There are also suppositories that might help. With these, you insert a tiny pellet into the tip of your penis to cause an erection.
Penile implants have a good track record of success for people who can’t get an erection from medication. You will need to have surgery to place an implant into your penis. Inflatable implants have a small pump placed in your scrotum that you use to fill the implant when you want to have sex. Malleable implants are made of a bendable material. You can use your hands to manipulate your penis into the desired position.
You can achieve an erection by slipping a plastic tube over your penis and pumping it to create a low-pressure vacuum. The pressure draws the blood into the erectile tissue. To keep the erection, you slip a ring around the base of the shaft.
Diabetes is often linked to low testosterone levels. If your doctor finds that your testosterone is low, they may prescribe testosterone by injection or skin patch. The increase in sex hormones can help solve erectile dysfunction.
As part of erectile dysfunction treatment, your doctor may suggest you make lifestyle changes, such as:
These changes may increase the effectiveness of any erectile dysfunction treatment. In addition, lifestyle changes can improve your overall health. Improving heart health and managing your diabetes will reduce your risk of future complications.
When you see your doctor to talk about erectile dysfunction, you should discuss your overall health. Some medications for erectile dysfunction are not appropriate if you have other health conditions. Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications you are currently taking. Let them know if you have a history of cancer or heart disease.
Once your doctor knows your medical history, they can help you choose the best treatment plan for your erectile dysfunction.
Medically Reviewed on 9/8/2021
American Diabetes Association: “Erectile Dysfunction.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Diabetes and Men.”
Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy: “Diabetes and sexual dysfunction: current perspectives.”
University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics: “How an erection works.”
University of Virginia Department of Urology: “Penile Prosthesis.”