About 34% to 45% of men with diabetes experience erectile dysfunction (ED)— the inability to get or keep an erection for sex.
While most men experience ED at some point in their lives, there are a few reasons why it affects men with diabetes more:
- Blood flow — Diabetes affects blood vessels so that blood flow may be compromised. The small blood vessels that supply blood to the penis are usually the first ones affected. And that can result in erectile dysfunction.
- Nerve damage — When diabetes isn’t controlled properly, it can cause nerve damage — including the nerves of the penis.
- Medication — ED may be a side effect of some medications prescribed to diabetics.
- Psychology — The shock and worry of being diagnosed with diabetes can take a toll on sexual function.
Diabetes, erectile dysfunction and risk factors
Some men with diabetes are at a higher risk than others. Risk factors include:
- Age and how long you’ve had diabetes
- Poor control of diabetes (glucose levels)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Low levels of male hormones
What to do about it
Try these tactics and tips:
- Control your diabetes. To help prevent nerve and blood vessel damage, follow the instructions and advice you were given to manage your blood glucose levels.
- Manage other medical conditions — some (like the ones mentioned above) may affect sexual function.
- Check your medication. ED may be a possible side effect.
- Don’t smoke — since it can narrow blood vessels.
- Manage your weight. Being overweight can cause ED or make it worse.
- Manage your stress.
- Be active — daily. Exercise can help improve blood flow, reduce stress, and keep your weight in check.
- Avoid too much alcohol.
It’s also important to note that diabetes can have an affect on a woman’s sex life too. Read Health tips for diabetes to learn more.
For more information and support, search “diabetes’” in Find Support for organizations in your area.