Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: From Causes to Treatment, Everything You Need to Know

Sex is a basic instinct, but sexual behavior is a learned ability. Healthy sex plays a vital role in maintaining the harmony and happiness in the life of adult humans.

Sex is like a medium to express love, which is the base for all sorts of creative activities. Among various phases of sexual response, the most essential is getting excited, or to be specific, getting an erection with sufficient rigidity for penetrative intercourse.

The absence of erection hampers relationships, which often leads to disappointment and frustration, and eventually separation. Erectile dysfunction also causes inadequacy in performing many routine duties.

Diabetes is one of the most common physical causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) associated with reduced quality of life among those affected. The etiology of diabetic impotence is complex, with neurogenic, vasculogenic and disordered local neuroeffector regulatory mechanisms contributing to the pathology of ED.

A study reveals that ED is more common in DM, and with age, the severity of ED increases. Socioenvironmental factors like distressed relationships, adverse life experiences, major financial crisis, bereavement and psychological stress have a profound influence on the mind and are capable of causing psychogenic ED.

Scientists also believe that ED in diabetic patients is more difficult to cure in comparison with ED in those with no traces of imbalanced blood glucose levels.

November is the National Diabetes Month, it is an opportunity to raise awareness about Erectile Dysfunction, its causes, symptoms, and treatments. The campaign aims to promote healthy living and help people know its risk factors.

Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction in Numbers

Studies estimate that about 35% to 75% of men with diabetes will experience at least some degree of erectile dysfunction or impotence during their lifetime.

According to a report published on WebMD, men with diabetes develop erectile dysfunction 10 to 15 years earlier than those without diabetes.

With age, erectile dysfunction becomes even more common. Above the age of 50, the likelihoods of having difficulty getting an erection are approximately 50% to 60% higher in men with diabetes. Above 70, the likelihoods are 95%.

What Causes Erectile Dysfunction amongst Diabetics?

  • Causes of ED are extremely complex, and are based around changes that occur to the body over time affecting nerve, muscle, and blood vessel functions. For erection, men need to have healthy blood vessels, nerves, male hormones and a desire to have sex. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the erectile functioning.
  • Many other factors bear on erectile dysfunction amongst diabetic men. These include: being overweight, smoking, low physical activity, and other lifestyle factors.
  • Sometimes surgery can damage nerves and arteries linked to the penis, as can some injuries.
  • It has been observed that many common medications (including antidepressants and blood pressure drugs) can cause ED.
  • Psychological factors also have an enormous influence on erection. Anxiety, guilt, depression, low self-esteem, and paranoia about sexual failure are estimated to cause between 10% and 20% of ED cases.


  • There are several methods to diagnose ED. Patient history often informs the degree and nature of erectile dysfunction.
  • ED patients may be physically examined, and bodily features can give clues about the actual cause.
  • Laboratory tests can help identify obvious causes of organic ED. Initial lab tests should include HbA1c, free testosterone, thyroid function tests, and prolactin levels. However, patients who do not respond to pharmacological therapy or who may be candidates for surgical treatment may require more in-depth testing, including nocturnal penile tumescence testing, duplex Doppler imaging, somatosensory evoked potentials, or pudendal artery angiography.
  • Further tests such as monitoring nocturnal erection (nocturnal penile tumescence) can help cancel some causes out.
  • Psychological examination can reveal psychological factors of ED.


Initially, preventive measures will help reduce the risk of developing ED. Improving glycemic control and hypertension, ceasing smoking, and reducing excessive alcohol intake have shown to be beneficial for patients with ED. Avoiding or substituting medications that may contribute to ED is also helpful.

  • Men who have diabetes and are having trouble getting or maintaining an erection can take oral medicine. However, because people with diabetes also tend to have problems with their heart, these medications may not be appropriate and could cause dangerous interactions with some heart medicines. Therefore, a detailed consultation with your doctor is necessary to determine the best course of action.
  • Additional treatments include intracavernous injection therapy, vacuum constriction devices, intraurethral therapy, and sex therapy.
  • Psychotherapy can have an enormous influence on erectile dysfunction. Further treatments such as surgery and vacuum devices have a significant role to play in some specific cases.
  • Non-oral treatments include intracavernous injection therapy, vacuum erection (not constriction) devices, venous constriction devices (for venous leak syndrome), intraurethral therapy, penile prostheses (inflatable and malleable), and sex therapy.

Here, what is more important is to keep in mind is that the most suitable treatment will depend on the physical and mental health of the patients, and their own ability to tolerate the treatment. Specialists such as urologists can work with individual cases and determine the best treatment.

ED is an under-recognized, under-discussed, and commonly untreated complication of diabetes. But, it is also one of the most treatable diabetic complications. It is a “couples disorder,” affecting both – the patient and his partner.

Knowledge of sexual dysfunction is rapidly expanding, and new effective treatments are now available, including oral medications, injectables drugs, vacuum devices, and inflatable prostheses. It is, therefore, important for both the physicians and the patients to be educated and aware of the causes and treatments of ED.

How EPIC Primary Care Helps Mitigate Diabetes and ED

At EPIC Primary Care, we provide A to Z healthcare treatments to help you effectively manage your chronic conditions and improve your health and functional ability. Through our Integrated Advance Care Team model and Personalized Augmented Comprehensive Care model approaches, we make your journey towards a fitter, healthier and disease-free lifestyle a smooth ride powered by our innovative practices, excellent patient service, and the efficient use of technology.

Diabetes is a disease, in which the body has trouble changing food into energy needed by the body to function. As a result, the levels of sugar in the blood become higher than normal. Often diabetes goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless.

Our diabetic care and management services include proper medical records review, appropriate medicine and/or insulin dosage, regular blood sugar monitoring, daily log of blood glucose levels, customized diabetic-friendly meal plan, regular preventive health checks, and self-care tips.

Since obesity also plays a significant role in ED, we provide you the best obesity management services including measurements of metabolism and body composition, nutritional assessment and dietary counseling, individualized exercise programs, personal training, weekly interactive personal and group education sessions, and long-term weight maintenance.

Early diagnosis and treatment of chronic medical conditions is imperative for all patients. EPIC has developed a program that may delay, or possibly halt, progression of many chronic diseases, including diabetes and obesity that are the prime reasons of erectile dysfunction.

If you have diabetes, you already know how important it is to be an active partner in your health. Managing diabetes takes knowledge and effort on your part.

Our goal at EPIC Primary Care is to ensure that every diabetic patient receives the highest level of treatment and education. This is why diabetes management is one of our key initiatives.

Know your numbers. Set goals with your health care provider: What should your blood sugar and A1C numbers be? How often should you undergo these tests?

Keep yourself updated with latest information related to your test results and health. If you have not seen a dietitian or diabetes educator within the past year, ask your EPIC Care Team to sign you up for it.

Talk to your EPIC PRIMARY CARE health team about how often you need the following:

  • Blood pressure checks
  • Cholesterol/blood fat levels
  • Dilated eye exam
  • Foot exam
  • Urine test for kidney function
  • Erectile dysfunction

We make sure that you understand and follow your treatment plan, including medications, meal plan, activity program, proper foot care, etc. By doing so, you’ll be helping yourself stay fit and away from conditions like diabetes, obesity and above all, erectile dysfunction.

Be a partner in your care. Work with your health care provider to develop a treatment plan that works for you. Keep a track of your blood sugar and A1C numbers, your medications, appointments, and other key parts of your care.

If you have questions or you think changes are needed in your treatment plan, call EPIC PRIMARY CARE at 248-336-4000 (Ferndale) or 313-861-4400 (Detroit) and schedule an appointment with our health care experts today!

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