How does diabetes affect erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction can be the result of poorly managed diabetes. Poor blood glucose control can result in complications of the vascular system, as well as nerve and tissue damage. These complications affect the ability to sustain an erection and can result in chronic ED.

There are answers, so talk with your doctor if you have diabetes and ED. There are medications and devices that can successfully help men with diabetes have a strong erection and have meaningful sexual relationships.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Diabetes can pack a double whammy when it comes to erectile dysfunction (ED). People with diabetes have problems keeping their blood sugar at safe levels. One effect of poorly controlled blood sugar is nerve damage. To achieve an erection, the brain sends signals along nerves to the penis. If those nerves become damaged by elevated blood sugar, erectile dysfunction can occur.

However, men who have type 2 diabetes -- by far the most common form of the disease -- often face another threat. In addition to blood sugar problems, many of these men have too much fat in their blood and high blood pressure. Both of these conditions can damage arteries that provide blood flow to the penis. Without adequate blood circulation, the penis cannot become erect.

There are excellent medications for controlling blood sugar, blood fats, and elevated blood pressure. Having diabetes should not prevent you from enjoying a satisfying sex life.
Harris H. McIlwain, MD

Fifty to sixty percent of diabetic men over age 50 have erectile dysfunction at some time.  Erection problems may even be the first sign noticed by a patient before they know they are diabetic. It is thought that the nerves which supply the penis and allow erection are affected by the continuous high blood glucose level. This is usually a temporary problem and when the blood glucose becomes normal or closer to normal then erection can resume as it was earlier. If the blood glucose is well controlled by following the proper diet and taking medications as planned by you and your doctor, there may no more problems with erection.

Diabetes can also cause erectile dysfunction that is long lasting. The most common causes of this are damage to nerves and blockage of blood vessels by atherosclerosis. This happens most commonly to the nerves in the legs, especially those that supply the feet and legs below the knees.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.