Islets of Hope complications of diabetes
Article compiled and edited by Lahle Wolfe
For more information see
Impotence may be a sign of heart disease, diabetes - Men with erectile dysfunction problems may face the risk of several underlying medical complications, including heart disease and diabetes, says a new study. 08/01/2006
Information links from the NIH
Sexual Function Health Council
American Diabetes Association (ADA)
American Association of Sex Educators,
Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT)
Erectile dysfunction (impotence) associated with diabetes
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Diabetes related erectile dysfunction: a common problem
One of the more common complications in males with diabetes is impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED). It can, and should be treated as early as possible. A person with diabetes related ED should not hesitate to mention the problem to his doctor because it is nothing to be ashamed about and treatment can either prevent it from worsening, and in many cases safely treat the problem so that a fulfilling sexual life can again be enjoyed.
What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?
ED, is defined as a man’s inability to achieve, or maintain, an erection allowing for normal intercourse. It is normal for men to experience isolated incidents of impotence; ED is diagnosed when it is an ongoing or repeated problem more than 75% of the time during attempted intercourse. It is not the same thing as diminished or low sexual drive, or ejaculatory issues.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction
Any man can have ED problems, but the condition of ED has several characteristics among those with diabetes:
It is more common among diabetic men. ED is a problem many men are not comfortable talking about but it is estimated that as many as 75% of men with diabetes develop erectile dysfunction (compared with 5-25% in the general population).
It begins earlier in life. Typically, men over age 65 may begin to develop erectile dysfunction. In diabetic males ED issues are more likely to appear 10 to 15 years earlier, on average. Men in their 30s and younger with diabetes have also experienced sexual dysfunction. But the overall risk of impotence can be diminished through good glycemic control.
Diagnosing erectile dysfunction
Certain tests can aid in diagnosing ED. They include:
Emotional and psychological impact
The inability to perform and enjoy sexual activities can lead to stress, depression, tension in relationships, frustration, and discouragement. Some men may feel less masculine, a sense of loss of control, or withdraw emotionally from their partners. Since all of these things can lead to less concern and attention to diabetes control (which only worsens the problem of impotence) it is important to speak up and seek treatment.
Diabetes and erectile dysfunction
Many factors can contribute to the development of impotence, both physical and psychological in nature. And just because a man has diabetes and develops impotence it could still be from some other cause or combination of things including medications, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. It is important not to self-diagnose impotence, but to see your physician who can help determine the cause and an appropriate course of action.
Diabetes-related impotence is preventable with tight blood glucose control. The main risk factors for men with diabetes include:
Prevention and treatment for diabetes related erectile dysfunction
The conditions of diabetes that contribute to the development of erectile dysfunction can be minimized…
Talking with your doctor at the first sign of impotence is important because he/she can help determine if erectile dysfunction is the result of diabetes or another condition. Other things you can do to minimize your risk of impotence include:
ü Keep good control of your blood glucose. High blood glucose is what causes damage to nerves and leads to blood vessel complications. If you have trouble keeping your blood glucose in a good range tell your doctor so that he/she can help you revise your diabetes care plan.
ü Keep your HbA1c below 8. One study of 78 diabetic men at the Cleveland VA Medical Center showed a direct relationship between HbA1c scores and erectile dysfunction. Those with am HbA1c below 8 had no greater rate of impotence than normally seen in the general population. Those with an HbA1c above 8 showed an increase rate of impotence – and approximately ten years earlier than would normally be seen in the general population.
ü Eat a healthy diet. Since high cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the development of erectile problems, it is important to follow your meal plan as prescribed.
ü Exercise. Being physically active can improve circulation, enhance mood, and help keep blood sugars in check; all important in maintaining healthy erections.
ü Limit caffeine to moderate amounts. Excessive caffeine can cause blood vessels to constrict, and can also mimic symptoms of hypoglycemia. If you feel low from too much caffeine you may snack when you don’t need to. Be sure to test your blood glucose levels often.
ü Avoid alcohol. Excessive amounts of alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction by damaging blood vessels. Excessive doesn’t necessarily mean large quantities. Men should consume no more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and women, no more than one. Since alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, the less you drink the better.
ü If you smoke, quit. Smoking and other tobacco use cause blood vessels to narrow, contributing to blockages that can lead to erectile dysfunction. Smoking also decreases nitric oxide levels needed to maintain an erection.
ü Counseling helps. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all contribute to impotence, in fact, even worrying about it can make erectile problems worse. If you have an existing problem, counseling can be an effective part of an overall treatment program.
ü Consult a urologist. Urologists have more experience in treating sexual disorders in men than other doctors. They are best able to identify the source of problems and come up with a treatment plan that works for you. Treatments a urologist may recommend include medications, surgical implantation of a pump or rod, and vacuum devices that use pressure to draw blood into the penis.
ü Medications. Drugs known to aid in erectile dysfunction include Tadalafil (Cialis), Sildenafil (Viagra), and Vardenafil (Levitra).
Page Updated 02/04/2007