- Diabetes can wreak havoc on your erections in many ways.
- Find out how untreated diabetes can hurt your penis and its erectile function.
- Learn what you can do to counter these effects and save your sex life.
- ED drugs like Viagra can help make sex with diabetes easier, but you’ll also need to make lifestyle changes and bring your blood sugar under control.
Sex and diabetes do not go well together. Diabetes has profound effects on health, and it doesn’t spare the genitals. If you are a diabetic man with erectile dysfunction, your disease is likely at least partially responsible for it. Here’s how diabetes can affect your erectile function.
1. Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Everyone will have problems achieving and maintaining an erection at some point in life. Diabetic men are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction earlier than those with normal blood sugar levels. None of this means, however, that if you are diabetic, your sex life is over.
Diabetes is a health condition with far-reaching effects on the body. Doctors know that its impact on erections is multifaceted and complex.
Diabetes can cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction by:
- Raising the level of advanced glycation end products in the body
- Increasing the amount of oxygen free radicals
- Hindering the production of nitric oxide
- Causing nerve damage in organs, including the penis
- Affecting endothelin B receptors
- Reducing the production of some cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent proteins
Diabetes may affect erectile function in additional ways researchers don’t yet understand. To treat ED caused by diabetes, doctors must first control the disease.
2. Diabetes and Decreased Libido
The desire to have sex is a complex manifestation of hormonal, physical, and psychological factors. You can’t have sex if you are physically unable, unwilling, or not in the “mood” for it. Diabetes affects many of the factors that comprise libido.
- Nerve damage makes achieving an erection and enjoying sex more difficult.
- The health problems that diabetes causes can rob anyone of the “mood” to have sex.
- Diabetes can reduce testosterone levels.
- Some medications doctors use to treat diabetes can also reduce sex drive.
If you are a diabetic and find that you don’t have sex anymore, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to have sex?
- Does my partner want to have sex?
- Is something keeping me depressed and disinterested?
- Am I having relationship problems?
These factors can also impair your libido and hormone levels beyond the sex and diabetes connection.
3. Diabetes Can Cause Yeast Infections and Thrush
Untreated diabetics have higher levels of sugar in their urine. The condition, called glycosuria, occurs in patients with diabetes and kidney damage. Since diabetes can damage kidneys, it is a significant indirect risk factor for sugary urine as well.
Sugar is a nutrient for bacteria and fungi. High sugar levels in your urine invite infections like thrush. Yeast infections are also more frequent in diabetics. These conditions are not STDs, but diabetics can get them from sexual partners.
Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk of yeast infections and thrush if you are a diabetic:
- Ditch the tight underwear.
- Keep your penis clean, but avoid chemical-heavy shower gels and soaps.
- Limit the number of sexual partners.
- Treat your diabetes.
4. Diabetes and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Having excess sugar in your urine makes you more likely to get urinary tract infections. When the tubes linking your bladder to your kidneys become inflamed, you may experience fever, back pain, chills, and confusion.
UTIs can affect your libido and cause erectile dysfunction.
5. Diabetes and Delayed Ejaculation
Some diabetes patients can’t ejaculate. The nerve damage resulting from elevated blood sugar levels over time causes these people to ejaculate back into their bladders.
In addition to retrograde ejaculation, diabetes damage may also cause delayed ejaculation, ejaculatory pain, reduced semen volume, and reduced ejaculatory force. It may prevent ejaculation altogether, causing dry orgasm.
6. Diabetes Can Decrease Semen Volume
Considering the wide-ranging damage it causes to the body, it is hardly surprising that diabetes also affects sperm production. Diabetics older than 40 have significantly lower sperm volumes than their healthy peers.
By interfering with sperm production, diabetes also affects the quality and motility of semen. The longer you suffer from diabetes, the more damage it does to your sperm production and quality.
7. Diabetes and Reduced Testosterone Production
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic men are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone (hypogonadism) as healthy men.
However, the interdependence between testosterone and type 2 diabetes is more complicated than that. Low testosterone may result from diabetes, but restoring normal testosterone levels can send diabetes into remission. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has emerged as a solution for reversing erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes.
Some diabetes sufferers may want to consider testosterone replacement therapy in addition to their diabetes treatment to improve the outcome, but regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can also boost testosterone production.
If you live an active life, you can lose the fat your body uses as fuel for your workouts and boost your testosterone levels at the same time.
8. Diabetes Can Cause Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease is the fibrosis of penile tissue that causes a curved penis and painful erections. Researchers have found that diabetic men are significantly more likely to develop the disease than non-diabetics.
Untreated diabetes can cause Peyronie’s disease. The condition does not go away on its own; on the contrary, it’s more likely to worsen. Doctors must treat diabetes to halt the progression of the disease.
9. Diabetes Medication Side Effects and Genitourinary Complications
Depending on the type of diabetes medications you take, you may be hurting your erectile function above the damage that diabetes has already done.
Doctors often prescribe a drug called metformin to bring your blood sugar level under control. Metformin causes your body to take up less sugar from food and use the available insulin more efficiently. But it can also crash your testosterone, reduce your sex drive, and facilitate erectile dysfunction.
Other diabetes drugs may cause infections in the genital area.
But the news isn’t all bad; sulfonylurea (Glyburide), an older medication for diabetes, may raise your testosterone level and improve erectile function.
ED Medications for Erectile Dysfunction Caused by Diabetes
If you are diabetic and worried about retaining erectile function, FDA-approved ED medications, like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, and Stendra, or their generic equivalents, can help erectile function in the short term. Combining PDE5 inhibitors with exercise and lifestyle changes can yield even better results.
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James spent the better part of the last decade studying and writing about the physiology of sleep and its correlations with dreams. He studied various drugs, natural substances, and hallucinogens that can impact the intensity and frequency of dreams.
For two years, he busted dietary supplement scams, analyzing various performance-enhancing compounds, nootropics, etc.