Can Type 2 Diabetes Cause ED?
In this article, we’ll discuss if Type 2 Diabetes can lead to the problem of ED in men.
According to a study conducted by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 35% to 40% of diabetic patients develop erectile dysfunction, often much earlier than those without diabetes. Top of Form Erectile dysfunction is prevalent in men who have type 2 diabetes that can be caused due to the damaged blood vessels and nerves which happens because of high blood sugar levels. Therefore, it can be said that it’s common for diabetic patients to develop erectile dysfunction.
Almost 75 percent of men who have adult-onset diabetes are likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Facing difficulty in attaining or maintaining a penile erection can be an early symptom of type 2 diabetes.
Even if these are two different health conditions, one’s more likely to lead to the other. Both the conditions though, are much common among men in their middle age or late adulthood.
Diabetes is a commonly occurring health condition that arises when an individual’s blood sugar levels are too high. The majority of diabetic patients tend to have type 2 diabetes, while the cases of type 1 diabetes are considerably rare.
When an individual is type 2 diabetic, their body doesn’t respond to insulin, doesn’t produce enough insulin or at worst, resists insulin. The illness is often a result of an inactive lifestyle or eating habits. Some early symptoms of the illness include:
- Frequent need to urinate
- Immoderate thirst
- Constant hunger
However, if you’ve been diagnosed with high sugar levels in your bloodstream for a long time, you might also be experiencing the following symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- Yeast infections
- Sexual dysfunction (low libido, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, etc.)
- Neuropathy (numbness)
- Acanthosis Nigricans (dark patches on your skin)
How Does Diabetes Cause ED?
The relationship between diabetes and erectile dysfunction is mainly because of inhibition of the blood circulation to the penile area causing difficulty in attaining and maintaining an erection.
1. Damaged Blood Vessels
The main reason behind diabetes causing erectile dysfunction is because it damages the blood circulation and the nervous system. When the blood sugar levels are immoderate, it can lead to wear and tear in the nerves and their blood vessels.
Damaged blood vessels inhibit the amount of blood allowed to enter the penile region, harming the nerves that facilitate arousal and sexual stimulation. This activity can make it harder for men to attain a penile erection firm enough to engage in satisfactory sexual intercourse.
2. Less Production Of Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in sexual arousal and penile erections. When sexual stimulation occurs, nitric oxide is released into the bloodstream in order to relax the blood vessels and muscles. This facilitates greater and smoother blood flow to the penile region, resulting in an erection.
However, diabetic patients often struggle with low levels of nitric oxide in their bloodstream. When there’s high blood sugar in the body, significantly less nitric oxide is produced. Therefore, less production of nitric oxide caused by diabetes can be another reason leading to erectile dysfunction.
3. Autonomic Neuropathy
Autonomic neuropathy is another major connection between diabetes and erectile dysfunction. It is a condition where involuntary bodily functions, such as the link between the brain and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) are hampered. Autonomic neuropathy is a chief symptom of diabetes and a major contributor to erectile dysfunction in diabetic patients.
The condition can inhibit the release of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and norepinephrine in the corpus cavernosa. This can restrain muscle relaxation and smoothening of the muscle walls that are vital for penile erections.
The build-up of plaque within the walls of arteries can impede blood flow to the penile area. This condition is called Atherosclerosis. It is often detected in diabetic patients with obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol issues. This occlusion of the arteries in the pudendal area can lead to erectile dysfunction. When there isn’t enough blood circulation in the corpus cavernosum, the person may face difficulty in generating an erection.
Diabetes And ED: Diagnosis
The diagnosis of ED depends on the medical and sexual history of the diabetic patient. Physical examinations are performed to measure and identify the degree of erectile dysfunction along with its closest possible root cause in patients.
Diabetic patients can be diagnosed in the following ways:
- Laboratory and physical tests: Physical assessment of nerve reflexes in the penile area.
- NPT monitoring: Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) is the penile erection that arises during sleep cycles. An NPT test is conducted on the patient to check if normal nocturnal erections occur during sleep.
- Blood tests: These tests help in checking the blood sugar levels in the body.
- Nervous system examination: These tests help recognize any evident nerve damage and damage to the blood vessels.
- Hormone tests: These tests help in measuring the levels of testosterone and other sex hormones in the body.
- Urine tests: To check the levels of sugar in the urine of the patient.
Also Read: Diabetes And Sleep
The treatment of erectile dysfunction depends on the health condition and the extremity of the illness. However, the following are some methods to treat diabetic patients who are also victims of ED:
1. Oral Medications
Oral medications work well with most diabetic men and help to cure sexual dysfunction by improving blood flow to the penile area. The most frequently prescribed medications are sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), avanafil (Spedra), and vardenafil (Levitra).
Oral medications don’t lead to any additional complications and are thus, safe to use by diabetic patients. Mild side effects come with every medicine, so do not get paranoid if you experience headaches, nausea, diarrhea, back pain, etc.
2. Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Diabetic patients with low levels of testosterone are suggested to undergo hormone therapy. Injections, capsules, or gels are used to boost testosterone levels.
3. Penile Injection Therapy
Caverject (alprostadil) is injected into the penis directly prior to sexual intercourse. The injection boosts the blood flow to the penile area, producing a phallus that lasts for 30 minutes.
Can Type 2 Diabetes Cause ED? Conclusion
Even though erectile dysfunction is a common causality of diabetes, it is often overlooked and under-discussed. People fail to recognize that the condition itself not only effects just the diabetic patient, but also his partner, and their combined sex life.
Erectile dysfunction is one of the few complications of diabetes that is medically curable (to a limited extent). Over the years, people have become more open about discussing this issue with their doctors and learning more about the condition.
The importance of education and consciousness about this condition is acknowledged. This has resulted in effectively improving the progress of new and effective treatments for the condition.
May 14, 2020 Sam Bell