Erectile dysfunction and diabetes are deeply connected. Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the inability to get or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. For some men, the problem is that they cannot get an erection while for others it is that the erection doesn’t last long enough. While there may be many reasons as to why someone has erectile dysfunction and men who have diabetes get this condition within ten years of diagnosis. The onset of erectile dysfunction is in men under the age of 45 years usually. Those who have heart problems or high blood pressure problems, they may begin to experience erectile dysfunction much earlier.
The link between Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes
Erectile dysfunction is not an unavoidable part of aging, but if someone has diabetes, it is a matter of time before they begin to experience this problem. While most men may have moderate erectile dysfunction, a minority have the more severe form.
Diabetes is a chronic disease of having elevated sugar levels. These high levels cause tissue and nerve damage in the body apart from having adverse effects on many organs. Even the small blood vessels feel the brunt of high sugar levels.
An erection happens when the blood flow to the penis is increased. This is because of the release of nitric oxide in the blood when the man is sexually aroused. The brain and the local nerve impulses cause the penile muscles to relax so more blood can fill them up, causing an expansion in the penis and creating an erection.
Diabetes causes damage to the nerves and the blood vessels to the penis and thus affects erection. Also, high glucose levels reduce the amount of nitric oxide that gets released into the blood.
Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction and diabetes
Several factors increase the risks of suffering from erectile dysfunction if you have diabetes. They are:
- Poor management of blood sugar
If the blood sugar levels keep fluctuating, chances of nerve and blood vessels damage is more.
Those who suffer from anxiety have more problems of erectile dysfunction than others who are less stressed.
Men who suffer from depression have more sexual problems than others.
- Poor Diet
Our diet has a significant impact on our health. Those who have erectile dysfunction increase their problems when they eat a poor diet that lacks nutrients and fiber.
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Those who cannot control their hypertension suffer earlier, almost half a decade earlier than those who have diabetes but don’t have hypertension. In short, hypertension is a contributing factor that enhances the chances of erectile dysfunction and diabetes.
Those who are obese suffer earlier from erectile dysfunction.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes
If you feel you are having problems, you should talk to your doctor about erectile dysfunction. Diagnosis is made with a physical examination to check for nerve problems in the testicles or the penis. A blood test may also be done. Either your doctor will prescribe the medicines, or he may refer you to someone specializing in sexual dysfunction. If you have diabetes but do not suffer from erectile dysfunction, you could talk to your doctor about the possibility of the issue in the future.
Treatment typically involves oral medication. These medicines increase the blood flow to the penis and the testicles. They do not react with the diabetes medicines. There are other options like pumps and implants, but these are far less effective and with more complications than oral medication. Hormone and penile injection therapies are also employed in more difficult cases.
Research has shown that adopting a good lifestyle helps in staving off erectile dysfunction. Just because one has diabetes doesn’t mean that is the end of your sexual health. These lifestyle improvements help to deal with diabetes and lower the risk of having erectile dysfunction.
- Controlling Blood Sugar
Having a stable blood sugar level will help you prevent organ damage and damage to the nerves and blood vessels. You can stabilize the blood glucose levels through a healthy diet. It will help improve your energy levels and your mental health.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking constricts the blood vessels in the body and reduces the amount of nitric oxide produced in the blood. Quit the habit immediately to stop your erectile dysfunction from worsening.
- Lose Weight
Even a small amount of weight loss will help you control your diabetes and in turn, reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. You will feel lighter, experience better moods and erections.
Getting active will help you to reduce your sugar levels, improve blood circulation to various organs and feel increased energy levels. It will help you lose weight and feel better about yourself.
- Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress hampers sexual arousal and may be the reason why you have erectile dysfunction. Many activities like meditation, yoga, exercising, listening to music and others help in reducing stress levels. Find your niche and engage in the activities that you enjoy. If you feel you are feeling anxious or depressed, consult your doctor.
- Catch Up on Sleep
Fatigue is another reason that causes erectile dysfunction. Ensure that you get your seven hours of sleep. Resting and sleeping sufficiently helps to manage diabetes and reduces blood sugar levels.
- Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Regular consumption of alcohol leads to blood vessels damage and causes high sugar levels. Also, it has been proven that while liquor increases your craving for sex, it reduces the ability to have sexual arousal. Smoking also increases the desire for smoking which causes more harm to the body.
If you are noticing problems in having an erection, talk to your doctor. It might seem like an awkward conversation but not having it will create more complications. Erectile dysfunction and diabetes has no one treatment as one treatment does not fit all, so your doctor will chalk out a strategy that will take into account your diabetes, blood pressure, and your other medications. The only way to ward off erectile dysfunction is by staying healthy, stabilizing your blood sugar levels and quitting smoking.