Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Is there a connection between diabetes and lower sex drive?
David Sobel, MD, JD on September 9, 2011
Yes, diabetes may affect libido (sex drive)…and diabetes also commonly causes problems with erections (erectile dysfunction, or ED). Why? Because diabetes tends to affect the nerves all over your body…and when the nerves get damaged, there’s often a loss of feeling or sensation.
For example, diabetes can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels that carry blood to the nerves in your penis. And if those nerves don’t get enough blood, they can wither…which can lead to a loss of feeling, and trouble getting erections and keeping erections. In fact, men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to develop ED.
Of course, many other conditions can also affect libido. For example, some men have low testosterone levels. Additionally, stress or relationship issues – or other health conditions, like heart disease, high blood pressure or depression – can all play a role.
And sometimes a low sex drive is a side-effect of medications used to treat high blood pressure or depression. So I would encourage you to see your doctor to find out if there are any other physical or emotional factors that are contributing to your issue…and whether treatment makes sense for you.
With your doctor’s help, I hope that you’ll find a way to continue to keep your diabetes in check, while also giving your libido a boost.
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.