The Independent Pharmacy

Treating Diabetes-Related ED: Understanding and Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction

Daniel Hurley
Daniel HurleyMPharm IPPharmacist Independent Prescriber

Reviewed on 2 Apr 2024

If you are living with diabetes, you may be wondering: can diabetes cause erectile dysfunction? The short answer is yes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of ED. When blood sugar levels are too high for too long, it can damage the blood vessels and nerves that are vital for getting and maintaining an erection.

The good news is that there are effective solutions available, from ED medications to lifestyle changes, that can help treat and even prevent ED caused by diabetes. With the right treatment plan tailored to your needs, many patients with diabetes are able to overcome ED and regain their sexual function.

Let’s explore the connection between diabetes and ED, the various medical and natural treatment options available, as well as tips on how to reduce your risk of developing ED as a diabetic.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diabetes is a leading cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) due to high blood sugar damaging blood vessels and nerves needed for erections.
  • There are various medical treatments available for diabetes-related ED, including medications like Viagra, injection therapy, devices, and, in some severe cases, surgery.
  • Making certain lifestyle changes like eating healthy, exercising, losing weight, and quitting smoking can also help manage ED symptoms.
  • Preventing and properly managing diabetes through blood sugar control, medication adherence, and routine monitoring can reduce the risk of developing ED as a complication.

Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Diabetes certainly can contribute to developing erectile dysfunction. Here’s a look at the connection between diabetes and ED:

  • High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control erections. Nerves are needed to trigger an erection, while healthy blood vessels supply blood flow to the penis.
  • Men who have diabetes are 3 times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction compared to non-diabetic men. The risk increases the longer you live with diabetes.
  • Studies show that 35-75% of men with diabetes will develop ED. The wide range is due to differences in diabetes management and the diagnostic methods used in the studies.

The bottom line is that keeping your blood sugars within your target ranges through medication, diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits is key to lowering your chances of developing ED. Work closely with your doctor to properly manage your diabetes and maintain good blood sugar control.

Treatment Options for Diabetes-Related Erectile Dysfunction

Medical Treatments and Therapies

Medications like Viagra (Sildenafil), Cialis (Tadalafil) and Spedra improve blood flow to the penis by relaxing the smooth muscles and opening up the blood vessels. This makes it easier to obtain and maintain an erection. These oral medications have helped many men better manage their diabetes-related ED.

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Viagra Tablets (25mg, 50mg & 100mg)
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And if you prefer topical ED treatments, you can also try Vitaros Cream or Eroxon Stimgel.

Vacuum erection devices are another option that uses a plastic tube placed over the penis, creating suction to draw blood into the penis and cause an erection. A tension ring is applied to the base of the penis to maintain the erection. This allows for sexual intercourse without the need for ED pills.

An injectable medication injected directly into the penis is also available. Medications like Alprostadil produce an erection by relaxing certain muscles and increasing blood flow.

For severe cases of ED, surgical options like penile implants may be recommended by your urologist. This involves surgically inserting rods or inflatable devices that allow you to control when and how long you have an erection.

Remember, properly managing your diabetes through medication, diet, and exercise is crucial for any ED treatment to be effective. You should also make sure you choose an ED treatment that works for your budget. Work closely with your healthcare providers to optimise your diabetes treatment plan.

Lifestyle Modifications and Preventative Measures

Making certain lifestyle changes and adopting preventative measures can also help improve ED symptoms for diabetic patients. These natural options may complement medical treatments. Here are some tips:

  • Follow a healthy eating plan that helps manage diabetes. Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt. Eat more veggies, fruits and whole grains. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through diet is key.
  • Increase physical activity with both aerobic exercise and strength training. Exercise benefits circulation, weight management, and blood sugar control, as well as reduce the risk of other complications. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight contributes to diabetes and ED. Losing just 5-10% of your current weight can start making a positive difference.
  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and cholesterol cause damage to blood vessels critical for erections. Medication may be needed.
  • Stop smoking and limit alcohol consumption, which both impair blood vessel function. Smoking doubles the risk of ED in men.

Making lifestyle changes like these can have a big impact on improving ED and your overall health.

Psychological Support and Counselling

In addition to physical treatments, seeking psychological support can be very helpful when dealing with diabetes-related ED. Mental and emotional health significantly impacts sexual health and function. Some tips:

  • Consider speaking with a therapist or counsellor who specialises in sexual dysfunction. They can provide coping techniques for the stress, anxiety or depression that may accompany ED.
  • Communicate openly with your partner about how diabetes and ED affect your relationship and intimacy. Seek counselling together if needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss ED with your primary care doctor as well. They can ensure your overall treatment plan accounts for psychological aspects of ED, too.
  • Try practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to better manage stress levels. High stress negatively impacts diabetes and ED.
  • View your health holistically, accounting for both physical and mental well-being. This integrated approach is key for the treatment of erectile dysfunction related to diabetes.

Seeking support for emotional and mental health challenges is just as important as physical treatments when dealing with diabetic erectile dysfunction.

Preventing Diabetes-Related Erectile Dysfunction

Early Diabetes Management Strategies

If you have diabetes, these management strategies can help prevent the onset of ED:

The earlier you get diagnosed with diabetes and have it under control, the lower your risk of erectile dysfunction and other complications over time.

The Role of Regular Monitoring and Adjustments in Treatment

Consistently monitoring your health and being prepared to adjust treatment when needed also helps manage diabetes and prevent ED progression:

  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly, track trends, and share the data with your doctor so they can make adjustments to get your diabetes under optimal control.
  • Monitor ED symptoms and discuss any changes with your doctor. The latest ED treatments are continually being developed that may work better.
  • Have regular physical exams to catch diabetes-related health issues early, before they advance too far. Identify any nerve, blood vessel or tissue damage. Read our guide to explore the common signs that you may have erectile tissue damage.
  • Work closely with your healthcare team to tailor your diabetes and ED treatment plans. Be open to adjusting medications, devices or lifestyle changes as needed.

Staying vigilant through ongoing check-ups and being adaptive with your treatment plans helps prevent diabetes-related ED from worsening over time.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

If you’re facing challenges with erectile dysfunction as a result of diabetes, know that you’re not alone, and The Independent Pharmacy is here to help. We understand the complexities and are committed to supporting you. So, get started by requesting a consultation.

After completing our discreet online ED consultation, one of our clinicians will review your information and get back to you with a personalised treatment plan. We offer prescription oral medications like Viagra. If appropriate, we will ship the treatment quickly and discreetly to your door.

We understand that managing diabetes-related ED comes with its challenges, but our compassionate clinical team is here to make accessing the treatment you need as easy and convenient as possible. Don’t let ED negatively impact your relationships and quality of life.

Take the first step by visiting The Independent Pharmacy’s website to explore our guides to learn more about ED and start your assessment.

Get in touch with our team today.

FAQs

Can a diabetic man get a hard on?

Yes, many people with diabetes are still able to get firm erections with proper management of erectile dysfunction and diabetes. Treatments like medications, devices, and lifestyle changes can help improve blood flow for harder erections.

Can you reverse ED from diabetes?

While diabetes-related ED cannot be fully reversed or cured, symptoms can often be managed effectively with medications like Viagra, the use of devices, and certain lifestyle changes. This can help restore sexual function and enjoyment.

Can diabetes stop you from ejaculating?

Diabetes does not usually prevent ejaculation entirely, but it can cause issues like retrograde ejaculation, where semen goes into the bladder instead of coming out of the penis. This occurs due to nerve damage from high blood sugar levels. Treatments are available to help restore normal ejaculation.

Does Viagra work for diabetic ED?

Yes, Viagra is one of the most widely used and effective medications for treating erectile dysfunction in diabetic men. It works by improving blood flow to the penis so erections can more easily be achieved and maintained. Viagra does not directly treat diabetes itself, though.

Sources:

J.R. Kovac, C. Labbate, R. Ramasamy, D. Tang, and L.I. Lipshultz (2014). Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485976/

NHS (2023). Type 2 diabetes - Getting diagnosed - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/getting-diagnosed/

John P. Kirwan, PhD, Jessica Sacks, and Stephan Niewoudt (2017). The essential role of exercise in the management of type 2 diabetes - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846677/

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