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Erectile dysfunction and diabetes: the connection

millions of people are affected by erectile dysfunction

Why do so many men diagnosed with diabetes also suffer from erectile dysfunction?  Are their ways to avoid erectile dysfunction if you have diabetes?  Why are risk factors for ED present when you are diabetic?  In this article, we will explore these topics. We will also consider treatment options for ED and answer some of the most common questions around erectile dysfunction and diabetes.

For more information, check out our “Guide to Erectile Dysfunction“.

Erectile Dysfunction and diabetes : the connection

What Causes Diabetes?

There is no single cause of diabetes.  Any number of the following can contribute to the condition:

  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Dietary choices
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Increasing age
  • Chemical toxins in food
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Smoking, drinking, illicit drug use
  • Unidentified component causing an autoimmune reaction

The underlying causes of diabetes are numerous. The factors mentioned above are common. The health of nerves, muscle function, and blood vessels can all be affected by diabetes. At its foundation, diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not properly produce insulin. Insulin is one of the main hormones that help to regulate blood glucose levels.  Diabetes can also occur when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin and blood glucose levels are irregular.

Do you suffer from Erectile Dysfunction?

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is the repeated inability of a man to achieve or sustain an erection.  It is characterized by the inability of the penis to expand from the flaccid state to the erect.  In addition to engorgement or expansion to the erect state, blood must stay in erectile tissues long enough to maintain an erection for sexual function.

What Causes erectile dysfunction

  • Heart Disease
  • Clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis)
  • High Cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome- a condition involving blood pressure, high insulin levels, body fat around the waist and high cholesterol
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Tobacco use
  • Peyronie’s disease – development of scar tissue inside the penis
  • Alcoholism and other substance abuse
  • Sleep disorders
  • Treatment for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
  • Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord.

man and woman torn apart by erectile dysfunction

Why Do Men with Diabetes Develop Erectile Dysfunction?

A normal erection is a complex interplay of sexual arousal, increased blood flow to the penis, and healthy nerve, muscle, and hormone function. Diabetes is associated with poor blood sugar control. When blood glucose levels become high this can cause damage to blood vessels. If blood glucose levels remain high for extended periods of time the damage can become severe or worsen.

High blood sugar can also injure nerves that control the penis.  This is called diabetic neuropathy, or more specifically, diabetic penile neuropathy. Damage to penile nerves can interfere with your body’s ability to send messages related to sexual stimulation through the nervous system to and from the brain and penis, which can lead to ED.

When blood sugar levels get too high, lower levels of nitric oxide are produced.  Nitric oxide triggers the arteries and the muscle tissue in the penis to relax, which encourages blood flow to the penis in healthy erectile function. Erections occur when neurotransmitters in health penile nerve tissue release nitric oxide.  Low levels of nitric oxide can prevent healthy erectile function in men with diabetes. 

Diabetes is often known to also accelerate a condition known as atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis creates a state in which blood vessels become narrow or harden.  Blood flow is reduced when narrowing or hardening of the blood vessels prevent blood flow from moving into and out of your penis.

The primary effect of diabetes on erectile dysfunction can be found in damage to blood vessels and nerves. Poor blood flow to the penis and nerve problems will contribute to ED regardless of whether the cause of ED is related to diabetes or not.  If a man experiences complication from Diabetes It is not surprising that he can find it difficult or impossible to create and or maintain an erection. Hypertension is a secondary condition to diabetes and kidney function as well as medications associated with hypertension that impact erectile function.

                            Diabetes and hypertension

Diabetes and Hypertension

Arteries that are damaged by atherosclerosis, a complication of diabetes, can cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also known as hypertension. Diabetes and hypertension can lead to narrowing of blood vessels going to the penis. Hypertension and Diabetes are both predecessors to erectile dysfunction.

In addition, diabetes causes kidney disease that can lead to hormonal changes. Some of the medications used as a treatment for diabetes and its complications (hypertension) are known to cause ED. Even if a man has normal amounts of male hormones and adequate sex drive, a firm erection may not be possible due to diabetes-related nerve and blood vessel damage. Other conditions that commonly co-occur in diabetic men, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, are also known causes of erectile dysfunction.

How Common Is Erectile Dysfunction in Diabetic Men?

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that affects 30 million American men. In fact, diabetic men are three times more likely to develop ED compared to men with normal blood sugars.  Diabetes is estimated to reach 322 million cases worldwide by 2025.  The third most common complaint registered among diabetic men is erectile dysfunction. Diabetes and erectile dysfunction are so common, they go hand in hand.

Up to 75 percent of men who have diabetes experience problems with erections. ED is age-related and occurs in 7 out of 10 men by age 70. Men with diabetes develop erectile problems at a younger age than non-diabetic men. In addition to ED, diabetes can also lead to other types of sexual dysfunction, including retrograde ejaculation, penile curvature, poor libido due to low testosterone, and fertility problems due to reduced sperm mobility.

Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction in Diabetic Men

Lifestyle Changes for Diabetic Men with ED: Studies show that modifying certain risk factors can reduce diabetes symptoms and improve sexual health in men. Adopting a healthier lifestyle to improve erectile dysfunction without medication treatment includes:

  • Balanced diet
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Weight reduction
  • Smoking cessation
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Stress management

Drugs to Treat Erectile Dysfunction: Oral medications for erection problems include:

  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • (Levitra)
  • Avanafil (Stendra)

ED pills are taken by mouth and increase blood flow to the penis to produce rigidity. Some common side effects of oral ED medications include stuffy nose, headaches, and prolonged erections. However, these are usually mild and self-limited. Medications are effective in up to 60 percent of diabetic men with erection problems. Other treatments for ED include suppositories and injectables for men in whom oral medications are contraindicated or not tolerated. Alprostadil shots (Caverject) cause blood vessel dilation and help up to 90 percent of men with diabetes who are experiencing trouble maintaining an erection. Suppositories (Muse) have a lower success rate of about 35 percent.

Surgical Treatment for ED in Men with Diabetes: Procedures that improve blood flow to the penis and help with impotence symptoms are technically challenging, expensive, and not always effective. However, surgeries for erectile dysfunction are a treatment option if severe diabetes has caused permanent damage to the blood vessels of the penis. Procedures include vascular reconstruction (bypassing blocked arteries) and placement of permanent penile implants.

Sex Therapy for ED: Short-term couples or individual counseling can help men with erection problems acquire better sexual communication skills and overcome performance anxiety. This type of treatment for erection problems is usually prescribed when the underlying cause is determined to be psychological in nature and physical examination and blood tests are normal. However, counseling can be effective in diabetic men with erectile dysfunction as a more holistic approach to treatment.

The best solution for erectile dysfunction in diabetic men depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the disease, associated health conditions, and the ability to tolerate treatment. Men with diabetes who are experiencing difficulty maintaining an erection should consult a urologist, a doctor who specializes in treating ED, to determine the best treatment option for their particular situation.

Erectile dysfunction pump

Diabetic men who utilize a vacuum erection device, also known as an erectile dysfunction pump immediately see positive results.  This treatment is non-invasive, affordable, and over 90% effective. Erectile dysfunction pumps are the only FDA approved treatment available without a prescription or visit to the doctor, every diabetic man should have Soma Therapy ED.

Soma Therapy-ED pump

Clinical Studies conclude that combined use of Viagra and an erectile dysfunction pump often work when Viagra fails on its own.  Therefore, combination therapy of oral medications and an erectile dysfunction pump can be effective, or Soma Therapy-ED can be effective without oral medications. 

For more information on purchasing Soma Therapy-ED, you can contact customer support at 800-827-8382 or see our product page to place your order.

How to increase blood flow to the penis

Poor circulation, nerve damage, or both are the underlying conditions for men with diabetes who are suffering from erectile dysfunction.  Men with type 2 diabetes are subject to a higher risk of reduced blood flow to the penis, because of diabetes associated bodily changes, that can inhibit sexual intercourse.

Blood flow reduction to the penis must be overcome once peripheral artery disease or Peripheral neuropathy have become advanced.  As reported in Diabetes Self-Management Viagra is not an effective ED treatment for a significant number of men who experienced advanced cases of diabetes and erectile dysfunction.  Effective and popular ED treatments that increase blood flow to the penis are available when Viagra fails.

For more information on purchasing Soma Therapy-ED, you can contact customer support at 800-827-8382 or see our product page to place your order.