(BlackDoctor.org) — Erectile dysfunction, also called impotence, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection of sufficient rigidity for sexual intercourse. Diabetes is chronic disorder, caused by insufficient production of insulin, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Did you know that these two conditions have a direct relationship with each other? Erectile dysfunction is a common complication of diabetes.
How does diabetes affect normal sexual functions in men?
According to the MayoClinc, diabetes can cause neuropathy or damage to nerves throughout your body, including the penis. Damaged nerves can’t communicate properly. So even though you might be emotionally stimulated to have intercourse, nerve damage means that information isn’t relayed to the penis, and it doesn’t respond.
In addition, poor blood sugar control can inhibit nitric oxide production. Lack of nitric oxide can prevent the pressure of blood in the corpora cavernosa from rising enough to close off penile veins, allowing blood to flow out of the penis instead of remaining trapped for an erection.
Blood vessels can also become narrowed or hardened (atherosclerosis) by conditions that often accompany diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease. When atherosclerosis occurs in arteries that supply the penis or pelvic area, sexual function may be disrupted.
What can I do about it?
Don’t feel discouraged. There are steps you can take to prevent diabetes related erectile dysfunction from occurring or worsening.
• Talk to your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about this. This is a very common condition. Talking to your doctor before a problem occurs can help you prevent or delay erectile dysfunction.
• Control your blood sugar. Good blood sugar control can prevent the nerve and blood vessel complications that lead to erectile dysfunction. If you’re having trouble controlling your blood sugar, talk to your doctor about refining your treatment strategy.
• Avoid tobacco. Smoking and other tobacco use cause blood vessels to narrow, contributing to blockages that can lead to erectile dysfunction.
• Avoid excessive alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction by damaging blood vessels. That means no more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
• See a urologist. Urologists have special expertise in sexual health. Some specialize specifically in erectile dysfunction. They can help assess your condition, determine its cause and identify safe and effective treatments.
• Get mental health treatment. Stress, anxiety and depression can cause erectile dysfunction. Even the fear of having erectile problems can make them worse. Talk to your doctor to see if these issues are playing a role in your erectile dysfunction.
• Reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. Men with diabetes who also have cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, face an even greater likelihood of developing erectile dysfunction because of the added damage to blood vessels.