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Does Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction

does diabetes cause erectile dysfunction

Description

Erectile dysfunction — the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex — is common in men who have diabetes, especially those with type 2 diabetes. It can stem from damage to nerves and blood vessels caused by poor long-term blood sugar control. ... Having erectile dysfunction can be a real challenge.

How Diabetes Causes ED

Human sexual response requires several different body functions to work properly and together: nerves, blood vessels, hormones, and psyche. Unfortunately, diabetes—and even the treatment for diabetes—can affect many of these functions.

Nerves: One of the most common complications of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage. Erection is a function of the parasympathetic nervous system, but orgasm and ejaculation are controlled by the sympathetic system. Neuropathy to either system can cause ED.

 Blood Vessels: Diabetes damages blood vessels, especially the smallest blood vessels such as those in the penis. Diabetes can also cause heart disease and other circulatory problems. Proper blood flow is absolutely crucial to achieving erection. “Erection is a hydraulic phenomenon that occurs involuntarily,” says Arturo Rolla, MD, of Harvard University School of Medicine. “Nobody can will an erection!” Anything that limits or impairs blood flow can interfere with the ability to achieve an erection, no matter how strong one’s sexual desire.

 Hormones: Diabetes often causes kidney disease, and kidney disease, in turn, can cause chemical changes in the type and amount of hormones one’s body secretes, including the hormones involved in sexual response.

Treatments for ED

ED is easily and successfully treated! If your sex drive is unaffected, but you experience problems achieving or sustaining erection for a period of four to five weeks, you may have ED. Talk to your doctor immediately. Don’t delay—erectile dysfunction doesn’t “just go away!” Additionally, ED could be a sign of a serious, even life-threatening complication, such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease. Ignoring your ED because it’s embarrassing could jeopardize your health.

Most men seek treatment from their family doctor, who may or may not be familiar with the range of treatment options. A specialist may be a better choice. Specialists include urologists and doctors practicing at ED treatment centers.

A thorough physical exam and medical history, along with certain laboratory tests, can help your doctor determine what is causing ED, and then choose an appropriate treatment.The most common treatments for ED fall into four categories: medications, external mechanical devices, counseling, and surgery.

Medications:

Oral medicines: The best known ED medications are the Big Three: Viagra (sildenafil citrate, made by Pfizer, Inc.), Levitra (vardenafil HCl, made by Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline), and Cialis (tadalafil, made by Eli Lilly). The three are chemically very similar, and all have proven very effective. Because they are effective, convenient, and relatively inexpensive (about nine dollars per pill), these medicines have become the treatment of choice for most men experiencing ED.

The main difference among the three is in how long they last. Viagra is supposed to work for between 30 minutes and four hours; Levitra for 30 minutes to two hours, and Cialis for up to 36 hours. In addition, Viagra is slightly less effective if taken with food; Viagra can also cause temporary abnormalities of color vision.

In some cases, however, these drugs may be unsuitable for patients with heart disease. If you are considering one of these drugs and you have heart disease, as many diabetics do, be sure to tell your doctor. In rare cases, the pills may create “priapism,” a prolonged and painful erection lasting six hours or more (although reversible with prompt medical attention).

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