Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Erectile dysfunction is quite common for diabetes, affecting roughly a half of men suffering from this disease. However, it does not mean the end of sexual engagement. All you need is to understand your specific situation and find the best way to treat this condition.

Millions of men all over the world experience such a problem as erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. It is rather an age-related health issue. However, certain diseases may significantly increase your risk of ED.

Diabetes is one of them: almost half of men suffering from diabetes would face those erectile problems. However, it is not that hopeless as it may seem and it definitely does not mean the end of sexual activity.

Erectile dysfunction can be treated effectively and new treatment options are appearing all the time.

In this article, we will go through ED and diabetes-related FAQ in order to make it clear for you.

What Is Erection and What Causes It?

Erection is an enlarged and hard state of the penis, normally in sexual excitement. The penis receives a signal from your brain as a response to arousal.

The initial nerve response causes a short-lived relaxation to the penis to create some space around the penis. This is needed for blood to flow into the penis. Then a membrane in the walls of the penis traps this blood inside, so that the erection can be maintained. During the final stage of this process, the penile muscles shrink forcing the blood back into the rest of the body. As a result, the penis does not maintain erection any longer.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

You may often hear people use the terms “erectile dysfunction”” and “impotence” interchangeably. However, these terms do not always mean the same thing.

ED is a physical inability to develop or maintain an erection. Impotence is a broader phenomenon, which also includes other sexual issues, for instance, lack of sexual desire, problems with orgasm, etc.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction in Men with Diabetes?

Diabetes can develop a number of complications that could lead to erectile dysfunction. The most common causes of ED in men with diabetes involve nerves, blood vessels and hormones.

Nerve damage caused by diabetes, also known as neuropathy, is believed to be the greatest risk factor for developing erectile dysfunction. Although neuropathy is often associated with the peripheral parts of the body, it can affect any part. When neuropathy affects pelvic nerves that are connected to the penis muscles, they may have difficulties sending the nerve signal.

Blood vessel damage, which also comes from diabetes, may slow down the blood flow to the penis, even if there is no problem with the nerves.

And finally, low amounts of testosterone in some men suffering from diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, may cause erectile dysfunction. Such a condition is called hypogonadism. Besides low testosterone levels, another risk factor for hypogonadism includes being overweight or obese.

How Can You Prevent ED?

According to studies, men with type 1 diabetes who managed their glucose levels well reduced their risk of ED.

Tight glucose control is a good way to prevent erectile dysfunction, though there is no 100% guarantee provided.

In addition, some lifestyle habits can help to lower the risk.

First, one would need to keep the blood pressure under 130/80 mm/Hg. Second, it is important to achieve and maintain an optimal weight. Practicing healthy lifestyle, for instance, not smoking, exercising regularly, eating healthy, can be very helpful.

How Can You Treat ED?

There are medications created specifically for erectile dysfunction. These are called phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors and include such drugs as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.

Based on statistics, 50% to 70% of men with diabetes respond well to such medications.

In case the medicines not work, there are alternative treatments, too. For example, certain medications can be injected into the penis. Another option is a surgical solution. But first, a patient has to consult his doctor to find the option best suitable for him.

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