Erectile dysfunction rarely happens on its own. More often, it is the result of an underlying medical issue, from heart disease to mental health problems. One of the leading causes of ED is diabetes–and it can begin unexpectedly years after your diagnosis. According to research from Boston University, “Of those diabetic men who will develop impotence, 50% will do so within 5-10 years of the diagnosis of their diabetes.” Diabetes directly causes erectile dysfunction when unmanaged blood-sugar levels damage nerves and blood vessels, or when diabetes contributes to co-occurring conditions, like coronary artery disease or high blood pressure.
When you have ED caused by diabetes, it can often feel like you’re fighting two separate battles. The fortunate reality of the situation is that with proper diabetes management, you can “kill two birds with one stone”–by reducing the impact of your diabetes, you can minimize its tendency to prevent erections and interfere with intimacy.
Proper daily glycemic control is a critical step in minimizing ED. Not only will your chances of getting an erection be improved, but your response to ED medications, like Viagra, will be more successful when your day-to-day blood sugar levels are stabilized. Following your diabetes care plan will not only improve your quality of life, but can improve your sexual health as well.
Just as important as your daily diabetes management is your long-term glycemic control. Your primary care provider, along with your urologist, can help improve your outcomes by looking at the bigger picture of your health care and figuring out how you’ll manage your diabetes moving forward. In conjunction with medications, lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercising more often, and quitting smoking can contribute to regulating your blood sugar over the long-term.
If you find that you’re still experiencing ED even with proper diabetes treatment, consider consulting a urologist to learn more about other options that are available to you. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with ED or not, it’s important to be screened for the condition as it can lead to early detection of more serious diabetic complications, like heart disease.
Your urologist can offer a number of different solutions to eliminate your erectile dysfunction, from prescribing medication and injections to recommending a penile pump or implant. Certain penile implants, like the AMS line, are prefered for diabetics, as they are antibiotic-coated to prevent infection. If you chose to receive a penile implant, managing your blood sugar level will be even more important to ensure that you don’t contract an infection during or after your surgery.
Relief from diabetes-related erectile dysfunction is possible, whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have been struggling for a while. By involving your PCP and consulting a urologist, you can address both your physical and sexual health for the best outcome and a future free from ED.