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Diabetes Knowledge

6 Things You Need to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes

3/4/2019 by Heather Nelson

6 Things You Need to Know About Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes

Ever feel too embarrassed to ask certain questions about diabetes? Worry about how to approach the subject with your doctor? Have no fear, we’re here to help!

Here at mySugr, we aren’t afraid to tackle tough subjects around life with diabetes, love and sex included. Love and sex are a part of life, and so is your diabetes, so it’s important to know how they impact each other. 

It's very likely that a good sex life leads to better health!* It can be good for your heart and blood flow, usually boosts your mood and even helps you sleep better. However, in some ways, diabetes can also be BAD for your sex-life. Or rather, it can interfere with the mechanics of getting it on. With that in mind, today we’re tackling erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED is defined as a consistent and repetitive problem obtaining and/or sustaining a functioning erection. There are a number of reasons this particular challenge can occur. Simple issues like diet, medication side-effects, and lifestyle issues can all play a part in sexual health.

Once you have discovered the culprit, most of those situations can be easily fixed. But what can you do when none of the go-to lifestyle shifts are the culprit? It can feel embarrassing to talk to your doctor but it’s a path worth trotting if you wish you get the spring back in your step sooner rather than later.

If you think this topic doesn't apply to you ladies, don't worry. We also covered sexual dysfunction in women.

Believe it or not, erectile dysfunction can quickly pop up when you least expect it. (sorry – that was a terrible joke…)

Here are 6 things you need to know about erectile dysfunction and diabetes:

1. Erectile dysfunction is known to impact a minimum of 1 out of every 5 men.

This number starts to increase with factors like age, and overall health. So the longer diabetes remains at play, the better the odds that ED can occur. And if you're currently dealing with ED, you are definitely not alone. This is very common, even without diabetes.


2. Diabetes affects blood vessels. 

This has been proven time and time again. We KNOW that living with diabetes can place a strain on the blood vessels in the body leading to hypertension, neuropathy, retinopathy, and more. We also KNOW that elevated and uncontrolled blood sugars can hasten these struggles, amplifying the need for optimal health and blood sugar stability.


3. Your Penis Contains Two LARGE Blood Vessels.

A properly popped-tent occurs when the two chambers known as Corpora Cavernosa are filled with blood. When successful, the additional blood causes the penis to reach for high noon. This process can be triggered by messages from the brain or by the nerves around the penis itself, therefore any illness in the body that affects blood vessels can impact your penis.


4. Men who have diabetes are 3-TIMES more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction than those without diabetes. 

Moreover, the onset of symptoms can begin a solid 15 years SOONER than our non-pancreatically-challenged counterparts. Yikes.


5. But FEAR NOT! Evidence has shown again and again that good blood sugar control can MINIMIZE this risk for ED. 

Furthermore, sustained corrective action with the blood sugar levels can have you back in action again in no time. But first things first…


6. When in doubt, see your doctor.

ED can be an indicator of cardiovascular disease. A quick physical exam can address any comorbidities like circulation or nerve trouble. A few labs can check blood levels like testosterone, cholesterol, and liver function; all of which can contribute to ED as well. Beyond those basics, your doctor can discuss lifestyle changes that can improve sexual function like giving up smoking and/or exercising to help improve blood flow. If your doctor thinks medication side-effects can be contributing, a simple change in prescriptions might have you back in the saddle in a jiffy.


Beyond the necessary steps of prevention, there are medications and treatments available to help reduce the symptoms of ED. There is an entire CLASS of drugs that boost blood flow to the penis during times of arousal. They are powerful and can work quickly, so talk to your doctor to find the right solution for you. 


BEWARE of the temptation to try DIY fad supplements though. Many will claim to treat ED, but even the FDA warns about the dangers of unlabeled ingredients and, again we state, ED can be an indicator of OTHER health concerns. Using OTC or OT-‘net’ supplements could actually complicate any underlying conditions. 


As awkward as the topic of erectile dysfunction may feel at first, the important takeaway from all this is simple. Like any other part of your health, your sexual health is important and can thrive even with diabetes at play in your life. Work closely with your medical team (they are used to questions like this) and do your best to manage your blood sugars. Focusing on full-body health is a great way to keep yourself heading in the right direction.


All information in this article is based on the following sources:
Diabetes Forecast 2012, accessed 15th October 2020, <>
Clinical Diabetes Journals 2001, American Diabetes Association, accessed 16th October 2020, <>
PubMed 2009, National Library of Medicine, accessed 16th October 2020, <>
Diabetes Forecast 2012, accessed 15th October 2020, <>
NCBI 2014, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, accessed 17th October 2020, <>
National Institution of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 2018, accessed 18th October 2020, <>
Healthline 2016, accessed 15th October 2020, <>
Mayoclinic 2018, accessed 15th October 2020,  <
Medical News Today 2017, accessed 17th October 2020, <>

The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.
Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Heather Nelson

3-time published author, & homeschool mom to 3 rowdy boys, Heather was introduced to diabetes when her oldest was diagnosed at age 2. From that day forward, she's channeled her signature mama-bear-fortitude into education, advocacy, & maximum effort to empower her son & other T1 Parents to live their BEST life. Active platforms on TwitterFacebook, & Instagram, she blogs privately at in her copious free-time.