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DIABETES AND ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. The most common is type 2 diabetes, usually in adults, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. In the past three decades the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in countries of all income levels. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, usually begins in childhood, but can occur in adults (30-40% of all type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in adults).
Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a type of sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity. ED can have psychological consequences as it can be tied to relationship difficulties and self-image.
The link between diabetes and erectile dysfunction
The link between diabetes and erectile dysfunction is caused by a combination of factors, including nerve damage, blood vessel damage, and poor blood flow. Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy and affects nerves throughout the body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in the legs and feet.
Blood vessel damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy and affects blood vessels throughout the body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in the legs and feet.
Poor blood flow can be caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis causes a narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to decreased blood flow to the penis.
All of these factors can lead to erectile dysfunction.
There are a number of treatments for erectile dysfunction, including lifestyle changes, oral medications, injectable medications, and surgery.
Lifestyle changes. These can include quitting smoking, losing weight, and exercising regularly.
Oral medications. These can include drugs called phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors. These include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra).
Injectable medications. These can include alprostadil (Caverject, Edex), papaverine (Pavabid), and phentolamine (Regitine).
Surgery. This can include a penile implant, or a penile prosthesis.
Vacuum devices. These can include a vacuum device that uses negative pressure to pull blood into the penis.
Psychotherapy. This can include counseling to help with relationship issues.
If you have diabetes and erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you manage your diabetes and erectile dysfunction.