Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 9, 2011

I’m a diabetic…how can I prevent ED?

Does diabetes cause erectile dysfunction? I’m a diabetic, but I’d like to do what I can to prevent ED. Any suggestions?

answered by David Sobel, MD, JD on September 9, 2011

Yes, diabetes can lead to ED. Think of it this way: erections happen when blood flows into the penis at a high speed…the blood gets “trapped,” which stiffens the penis. Over time, diabetes (especially uncontrolled diabetes) can damage the tiny blood vessels throughout the body, including the ones that take blood to the penis.

Those tiny blood vessels also bring blood to the nerves in your body to keep them healthy. Eventually, if those nerves don’t get enough blood, they can wither. This can lead to a loss of sensation in the penis, as well as a loss in the communication pathway that signals the penis to “wake up.”

So, what’s the best way for diabetic men to prevent ED? Control your blood sugar. For example, if you’re overweight,losing as little as 10 pounds can make a big difference in your blood sugar. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help, too…in fact,just 30 minutes of walking most days can help control blood sugar.

But be sure to check with your doctor about the best diet and exercise routine for you and your unique circumstances.

It’s also important to see your doctor for regular checkups and physicals. Why? Because people with diabetes are more likely to develop other health problems (e.g., high blood pressure), which can also lead to ED. I know that’s not what you want to hear…but the good news is that positive lifestyle changes, like exercise and weight loss, can also help prevent or manage any complications from diabetes.

You’re definitely on the right track to look for ways to prevent ED before it becomes a problem. I wish you good luck and good health.

Related Info:

David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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