Men living with diabetes have enough on their plate. They need to monitor their blood glucose level, blood pressure and, most likely, several medications. If this is you, and you’re experiencing problems in your sex life, there’s a good chance you’re feeling anxious, frustrated and depressed.
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You may know that erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection. But did you know that ED is common among men who have diabetes? This condition can stem from problems caused by poor long-term blood sugar control, which damages nerves and blood vessels. ED also can be linked to other conditions common in men with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
The same elevated blood glucose level that causes blood vessel and nerve damage in other parts of the body also can lead to complications in blood flow and nerve damage to the penis, says Kevin Borst, DO, an endocrinologist at Lakewood Hospital’s Diabetes and Endocrine Center.
“Approximately half of all men living with diabetes will experience erectile dysfunction at some point,” Dr. Borst says.
Even if there’s a medical reason behind it, ED can leave any man and his partner feeling frustrated and discouraged. If you or a loved one are experiencing ED, you are not alone. And you can take steps to cope.
Talk to your doctor
Tell your doctor what’s going on. Your doctor 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 diabetes. Careful blood sugar control can prevent nerve and blood vessel damage that can lead to ED. Appropriately managing your diabetes is critical.
- Ask about other health problems. It’s common for men with diabetes to have other chronic conditions that can cause or worsen ED. This condition also may cause high levels of stress, so it’s very important to address all issues with your physician.
- Check your medications. Ask your doctor if you’re taking any medications that may be worsening your erectile problems, such as medications used to treat depression or high blood pressure. Your doctor may change your prescriptions if necessary.