Erectile Dysfunction

Some men with diabetes have impotence, also called erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is when a man can no longer have or keep an erection.

What Causes ED?

Over time, blood vessels and nerves in the penis can become damaged. ED can also be caused by other conditions, such as prostate or bladder surgery.

Certain medicines, such as some pills for high blood pressure or depression, may cause ED. Pills for stomach ulcers or heartburn may also cause it. Ask your health care provider if ED is a side effect of any of your medicines. There may be other pills you can take.

Remember, talk with your health care provider or diabetes educator before trying any treatment for ED or before stopping any of your medicines.

Lifestyle choices that contribute to heart disease and vascular problems also increase the chances of ED. Smoking, being overweight, and being inactive can contribute to ED. Experts believe that psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, guilt, depression, low self-esteem, and fear of sexual failure cause 10 to 20 percent of ED cases.

Talk About It!

It's not easy to accept that you have ED. And it can be even harder to talk about it.

Talking about ED is the only way to learn about treatments and get the help you need. It's normal to feel embarrassed discussing such an intimate and personal issue, but your health care provider is a professional who is there to help you, not judge you.

  • Explain to your health care provider the symptoms you have been experiencing
  • Tell your health care provider your concerns and ask him if it could be ED or another sexual disorder
  • Inform your health care provider of any other emotional or physical changes you have experienced
  • Review with your health care provider any medications you may be taking which may be causing these symptoms
  • Ask your health care provider about treatment options and which he recommends to fit your needs

ED Treatment Options

  • Taking prescription pills
  • Putting medicine called prostaglandins into your penis
  • Using a vacuum tube and pump to draw blood into the penis
  • Surgery to put a device in the penis or to fix blood vessels so more blood will flow to the penis

More Information

You may be interested in our book, Sex and Diabetes: For Him and For Her.

  • Last Reviewed: August 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: March 28, 2014

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