Type 2 Diabetes Can Seriously Affect Men’s Sex Lives: Here’s How
This article discusses the relationship between diabetes and men’s reproductive health, namely how diabetes is linked to erectile dysfunction (ED).
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects numerous systems in the body, including the male reproductive system. In 2015, more than 30 million Americans were estimated to have diabetes, which equates to roughly 9% of the population. Today, that number is likely over 10% of the U.S. population.
Distinguishing between Types of Diabetes
Diabetes, short for Diabetes Mellitus, is typically divided into two categories (Type I vs Type II) based on the body’s production and use of insulin and its ability to regulate glucose, or blood sugar.
Type I diabetes is referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. With Type I diabetes, the body fails to produce an adequate amount of insulin needed to process glucose. With Type II diabetes, known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, the body has insulin but does not use it correctly. The majority of people diagnosed with diabetes have Type II, which can be caused by lifestyle and behavior choices.
Common risk factors for Type II diabetes include:
- Weight and fat storage
- Physical inactivity
- Family history
Some of these risk factors, like family history and age, are outside of our control. However, lifestyle and behavioral changes, like completing a daily exercise routine or eating a healthy diet, can counteract physical inactivity and weight. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, it could benefit your sex life.
Type II Diabetes and Sexual Functioning
Left untreated or improperly managed, Type II diabetes results in significant health issues, including heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, and even sleep problems. Type II diabetes also impacts the male reproductive system, contributing to conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED), reduced testosterone levels, and a decreased sex drive.
While we know that men’s risk for ED goes up with age, their risk of ED is tripled if they have diabetes. This is unsurprising as erectile dysfunction is commonly caused by circulation issues, meaning adequate blood flow cannot get to the penis to get or keep an erection for sex.
Addressing Diabetes to Improve Sexual Health
Men can take several steps to improve their sexual health as it relates to diabetes:
- Eat a diabetic-friendly diet
- Get adequate physical activity
- Take medication to treat erectile dysfunction
Many of the health issues associated with Type II diabetes, including ED, can be managed with the right diet and physical activity levels. For instance, diets that incorporate complex carbohydrates like rice, oatmeal, beans, fruits, and vegetables are recommended for diabetics to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Similarly, getting the recommended amount of weekly physical activity improves blood flow and can assist in weight loss as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Finally, men with diabetes should discuss the option of oral medications like Viagra to treat ED while they work on longer-term lifestyle changes.
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