What to Do When Diabetes Affects Your Sex Life

For men with diabetes, the risk of ED is high
Erectile Dysfunction & Diabetes

If you’re a guy living with diabetes, you’ve got enough on your plate.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You have to monitor your blood glucose levels and blood pressure, and, most likely, take several medications.

If this is you, and you’re experiencing problems with your sex life, there’s a good chance you’re feeling anxious, frustrated and depressed.

You may know erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection. But did you know how common the condition is among men with diabetes?

“The risk of ED approaches 50 percent for men with diabetes — and increases with age,” says endocrinologist Kevin Borst, DO.

What causes ED

Erectile dysfunction can stem from problems caused by poor long-term blood sugar control, which damages nerves and blood vessels.

ED is also linked to other conditions common among men with diabetes, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and obesity.

Advertising Policy

“The same elevated blood glucose levels that cause blood vessel and nerve damage in other parts of the body can lead to problems with blood flow and nerve damage in the penis,” explains Dr. Borst.

But even when there’s a medical reason behind it, ED can leave any man and his partner feeling frustrated and discouraged.

If you or your partner are experiencing ED, you’re not alone. And you can take steps to improve your situation.

Start with your doctor

Tell your doctor what’s going on. He or she will consider the underlying causes of your ED and can give you information about medication and other ED treatments.

Ask what you need to do to control your diabetes, because managing it well will be critical.

“Careful blood sugar control can prevent the nerve and blood vessel damage that lead to ED,” says Dr. Borst.

Advertising Policy

Be sure to address all your health issues with your physician, especially chronic conditions, like high cholesterol, that contribute to ED.

Ask if any medicine you’re taking — including antidepressants or blood pressure medication — could be worsening your erectile problems. Your doctor may be able to switch your prescription.

Also, living with diabetes and its complications can cause significant stress that may impact sexual function. Talk to your doctor about stress management strategies.

Finally, if you smoke, ED provides another compelling reason to quit.

Taking steps to learn what may be causing your ED can help you find solutions, and ease frustration for you and your partner.

Advertising Policy