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DIABETES AND ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION: WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?

Erectile dysfunction
Dr. Leonel Porta
Written by Dr. Leonel Porta

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is the most common sexual problem that affect diabetic men. We have previously addressed the factors associated with this condition and the steps that can be taken to keep a satisfactory sexual life despite diabetes. Today, we’ll explain further the mechanisms involved in this condition in an attempt to make it easier to get your sex life back in track.

The penis is formed by a pair of columns of erectile tissue at either side along the length of the penis that, together with the corpus spongiosum, produce an erection when filled with blood. When this event takes place, the veins are compressed preventing the blood from exiting to maintain the erection.

Various underlaying factors are known to cause an erectile dysfunction:

  1. Damage to the nervi erigentes which prevents or delays erection. It may also affect penis sensibility.
  2. Artery narrowing, so blood flow to the penis tissues is decreased or compromised.
  3. Reduced capacity to store and retain blood within the erectile tissues.

Diabetic patients can often develop nerve problems (diabetic neuropathy) and blood flow complications (vascular peripheral neuropathy) resulting from a poor control of their blood sugar levels. Due to persistent hyperglycemia, diabetic individuals have 2-3 times more probability of developing erectile dysfunction. Neuropathy causes disturbances in neural transmission which promotes relaxation of corpora cavernosa due to loss of penis sensitivity. In case of vascular peripheral neuropathy, blood flow toward the penis is reduced. In both cases, the net result is an erectile dysfunction.

On the other hand, a transient erectile dysfunction has been reported, which usually follows a sudden diabetes diagnosis. It may also be due to the frustrating feelings resulting from the impact that this chronic disease will have in your future lifestyle. Once the blood sugar is under control, the sexual function returns to normal.

Since erectile dysfunction is one of the troubling complications of diabetes, it is crucial to keep yourself under permanent medical supervision, eat a healthy diet, and exercise daily. Your health should be your number one priority. Value yourself no matter the obstacles you will have to overcome. An early diagnosis followed by an efficient and integrated control of your diabetes will guarantee an appropriate management of the possible complications of this condition and will allow you to enjoy a pleasant sexual life.

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About the author

Dr. Leonel Porta

Dr. Leonel Porta

Medical doctor and author of several publications. He has developed experience as a general practitioner and occupational health care, continually facing diabetes. His medical training and Jesuit values enable Leonel’s articles to seek not only physical, but also psychological, social and spiritual healing.

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