Diabetes-Induced Erectile Dysfunction: Prevention and Treatment

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem for male persons with diabetes. However, it is neither inevitable and nor untreatable. If you are faced with this condition or are at risk, our article may be useful for you. Read preventing and treating strategies below.

The Essence of Diabetes and Its Consequences for the Body

Diabetes mellitus (DM) stands for a class of metabolic disorders manifested by elevated glucose rates in the bloodstream.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • type 1 diabetes,
  • type 2 diabetes.

According to the World Health Organization, the majority of people with diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes, which, according to representatives of this specialized UN agency, is largely the result of overweight and physical inertia.

There is also gestational diabetes, but in this article its consideration is irrelevant, since this form is found only in women.

If left untreated, both types of DM may cause severe complications.

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • excessive thirst and hunger;
  • frequent urination;
  • constant drowsiness or fatigue;
  • dry skin, itching;
  • gradual deterioration of vision, up to diabetic retinopathy, which causes blindness;
  • deterioration of the regeneration function;
  • impairment of other organs and systems.

How Is Erectile Dysfunction Linked to Diabetes?

In the process of erection emergence and maintenance, the condition of both the vegetative nervous system and blood vessels (their patency and elasticity) plays an important role. These two systems can be deteriorated by diabetes.

According to findings obtained by Rozhivanov RV, Suntsov YI. (2005), Nisen HO, Larsen A, Lindström BL et al. (1993), erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual disorder in men with diabetes. Unfortunately, sexual impotence occurs in ≥50% of men suffering from this disease (Thorve VS, Kshirsagar AD, Vyawahare NS et al., 2011, Indian AISSMS College of Pharmacy). At the same time, the risk of ED in diabetes patients is 3 times higher than in healthy population.

ED and diabetes

One of the main causative factors in the development of diabetes-induced erectile dysfunction is neuropathy. This term refers to the nervous system disorders associated with the impairment of small blood vessels. Back in 1980, scientists proved at the morphological level damage to autonomic nerve fibers in the tissues of the cavernous bodies, which developed in men as a result of diabetes.

Thus, diabetes leads to a decrease in the nervous sensitivity of the penis and the deterioration of blood circulation in it. As a result, it becomes harder for a man to achieve erection and maintain it for a proper time period, which falls under the diagnosis of erectile dysfunction. The more severe stage of diabetes, the more severe disorders of the reproductive system.

How to Prevent/Treat Diabetes-Induced ED?

If a man suffers from type 1 diabetes, which seems to be a gene disease, he should know that this condition cannot be cured, but it can be treated preventing possible complications such as impotence. It is necessary to periodically go to the doctor for check-ups and adjust the treatment, if necessary.

Type 2 diabetes is also incurable, however, it can go into remission. Life with diabetes can be fulfilling. Moreover, this illness and consequently, possible sexual dysfunction can be prevented. The main methods of preventing diabetes include dietary correction, weight control, sports (or at least regular walking), as well as a routine physical examination in case of risk factors. These factors include age over 45, diabetes in relatives, excess weight, low physical activity, elevated glucose levels during examination, high blood pressure, problems with cholesterol levels.

If a man with diabetes experiences developing ED, he should properly treat diabetes and take action to combat erectile dysfunction (from special exercises for the pelvic area to medical treatment). PDE5 inhibitors, such as Viagra and Cialis, are first-line drugs for the effective treatment of impotence. They have a symptomatic effect and act precisely when needed. These drugs selectively inhibit PDE-5 enzyme (which suppresses the natural processes of erection), without having a direct effect on the smooth muscle cells of the penis.

Once again we draw your attention to the fact that diabetes cannot be neglected, because if it seriously damages the mechanisms of erectile function, and the consequences can be almost irreparable. According to doctors, the ineffectiveness of the PDE5i group of drugs was observed in patients with severe impotence and the most severe course of diabetes with long decompensation periods.