Insulite Laboratories reports that nearly 80 percent of men who have diabetes will develop erectile dysfunction (ED). The condition can severely impact the ability of men to maintain a healthy relationship, and ED can cause serious psychological issues if the condition goes untreated.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
MedLine Plus explains that ED is a medical condition that makes it difficult for a man to achieve and maintain an erection. ED is a common affliction that tends to occur more in older men, but the condition has underlying causes other than aging.
It is important for men to understand that occasional difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection is not the same as ED. ED is an ongoing problem that makes sexual activity difficult at any time. Men who suffer from the issue have a normal sex drive and are capable of ejaculating.
The Relation Between Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction
Men who suffer from diabetes are three times more likely to develop a problem that affects their sex life. ED is the most common problem that develops as a result of diabetes. The National Federation of the Blind explains that there are several reasons for the correlation between diabetes and ED.
- Nerve damage is a common complication of diabetes, and men who experience damage in the nervous systems that control erection and ejaculation will develop ED. The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems impact sexual health.
- Circulatory problems are caused and exasperated by diabetes. This means that men who have diabetes may experience a lack of blood flow to the penis. The individual may want to engage in sexual activity, but damage in the circulatory system makes it impossible for an erection to be achieved.
- Hormonal changes may occur as a result of kidney problems that develop because of diabetes. An imbalance in the hormones that impact sexual response can cause ED.
- A diabetes diagnosis can be difficult to handle. The added stress and life changes that follow a diabetes diagnosis can cause men to develop psychological issues that make it difficult for a man to achieve an erection. This problem is exasperated by the psychological damage caused by an inability to engage in sexual activity.
- Diabetes medication can cause ED. It is estimated that one-quarter of men who have ED develop the condition because of the medications that they take.
Treatment Options For Diabetic Erectile Dysfunction
The good news is that ED can be treated. The Mayo Clinic explains that the first step to treating ED is consulting with a medical professional. Physicians are able to advise patients about methods of controlling diabetes to limit the extent of complications like ED.
There are medications on the market that are specifically made to treat ED. Examples of these medications include Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. However, some men are not able to use medications because of heart problems.
A topical medication that contains nitroglycerine is able to improve blood flow to the penis. However, this medication has been known to cause headaches in sexual partners. It is recommended that men who opt for this medication use a condom to reduce this risk.
Mechanical devices that are placed on the penis can improve blood flow. These devices are essentially used to assist in producing an erection.
ED that has psychological causes can be treated through the use of counseling. Therapy offers the additional benefit of helping men with diabetes work through any anger, resentment or depression that may have developed after their diagnosis.
Surgical intervention is rarely recommended for ED, but there are options that involve going under the knife. Implants in the penis or vascular reconstruction that improves blood flow to the penis can help men achieve erection. However, all surgery comes with risks that should be discussed with a medical professional.
Preventing Diabetic Erectile Dysfunction
Men who have yet to develop diabetic ED have the opportunity to take preventative measures. Taking control of blood sugar levels is an important step in preventing complications including ED. Regulating cholesterol and blood pressure by eating a healthy diet and exercising is recommended. Smoking and drinking are two contributing factors when it comes to the development of diabetic ED.
Unfortunately, preventative measures do not always stop diabetic ED from developing. Men who suffer from the condition should consult with their physician to discuss treatment options. The issue may be difficult to bring up during an appointment, but personal health and happiness often depend on a patient’s ability to discuss sensitive issues with a medical professional.