Erectile Dysfunction & Diabetes
It is estimated that about 75% of men with diabetes will experience at least some degree of erectile dysfunction –( also called ED or impotence) — during their lifetime.
Men with diabetes tend to develop erectile dysfunction 10 to 15 years earlier than men without diabetes. As men with diabetes age, erectile dysfunction becomes even more common.
Above the age of 50, the likelihood of having difficulty with an erection occurs in approximately 50% of men with diabetes. Above the age of 70, there is about a 95% likelihood of having some difficulty with erectile dysfunction.
Although diabetes and erectile dysfunction (ED) are two separate conditions, they tend to go hand-in-hand. ED is defined as having difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. Men who have diabetes are two to three times more likely to develop ED.
About half of men who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will develop ED within five to 10 years of their diagnosis. If those men also have heart disease, their odds of becoming impotent are even greater.
However, studies suggest that if you have diabetes but adopt a healthier lifestyle, you may reduce your diabetes symptoms and improve your sexual health. These lifestyle habits include eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
We know some people get confused between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes both have stuff in common, there are lots of differences. Like what causes them, who they affect, and how you should manage them
For a start, type 1 affects 8% of everyone with diabetes. While type 2 diabetes affects about 90%.
The main thing to remember is that both are as serious as each other. Having high blood glucose (or sugar) levels can lead to serious health complications, no matter whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 and Type 2 differences
Below is a guide to some of the main differences between type 1 and type 2.
Type -1 Your body attacks the cells in your pancreas which means it cannot make any insulin.
Type – 2 Your body is unable to make enough insulin or the insulin you do make doesn’t work properly.
Type 1 is managed by taking insulin to control your blood sugar.
You can manage type 2 diabetes in more ways than type 1. These include through medication, exercise and diet. People with type 2 can also be prescribed insulin.
The causes of erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes are complex and involve impairments in nerve, blood vessel, and muscle function.
To get an erection, men need healthy blood vessels, nerves, male hormones, and a desire to be sexually stimulated. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control erection. Therefore, even if you have normal amounts of male hormones and you have the desire to have sex, you still may not be able to achieve a firm erection.
The connection between diabetes and ED is related to your circulation and nervous system. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can damage small blood vessels and nerves. Damage to the nerves that control sexual stimulation and response can impede a man’s ability to achieve an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Reduced blood flow from damaged blood vessels can also contribute to ED.
Many other factors bear on erectile dysfunction amongst diabetic men.
- Being overweight
- Taking too little exercise and other lifestyle factors.
Surgery can damage nerves and arteries linked to the penis, as can some injuries. Many common medications (including antidepressants and blood pressure drugs) can produce ED.
Men who have diabetes and are having trouble achieving or maintaining an erection can take oral medicine.
However, these medicines can affect the heart rate, so detailed consultation with your doctor is necessary to determine the best course of action.
Additional treatments include intracavernous injection therapy, vacuum constriction devices (Vacuum Pumps)
Vacuum pumps consist of a plastic tube, in which you place your penis. The pump, which may be battery or hand pump operated, creates a vacuum that will draw blood into the penis making it erect. A rubber ring will need to placed around the bottom of the penis to keep it erect. A vacuum pump is not for use if you have a bleeding disorder or take anticoagulants.
Intracavernosal injection – whereby medicine is given by injection into the penis
The most suitable treatment will depend on the health of the patient and their own ability to tolerate the treatment. Specialists can work with individual cases and determine the best treatment.