Erectile Dysfunction (ED) – the inability to sustain an erection when sexually aroused, is a complication of diabetes that affects some men. This condition is caused by neuropathy (nerve damage).
A practicing urologist and surgeon in Grenada Dr. Robert J. Yearwood, says that there is a direct correlation between uncontrolled diabetes and ED, “Erectile Dysfunction in males is a lot more common than people think because it is certainly not something that people talk about – but a major or leading cause of erectile dysfunction is diabetes.” Dr. Yearwood went on to say that diabetic patients taking their medications as prescribed, following a healthy diet plan and exercising daily can lower men’s risk of developing this particular complication of diabetes, “Some people are still able to get an erection but the quality might be diminished and another thing too – just to just sort of stick a pin here – diabetes is not the only cause of erectile dysfunction; and because you have diabetes it does not mean you will get erectile dysfunction. So everyone who is a diabetic don’t think, that they have erectile dysfunction but if you are diabetic and you don’t look after yourself; take your medication as prescribed [or] stick to the diet plan, the chance of you getting erectile dysfunction is very high.”
The United States’ National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that nerve damage is likely due to a combination of factors, these include:
* High blood glucose, long duration of diabetes, abnormal blood fat levels, and possibly low levels of insulin
* Damage to the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to nerves
* Inflammation in nerves
* Inherited traits that increase susceptibility to nerve disease
* Lifestyle factors, such as smoking or alcohol use
Neuropathy is one of several complications associated with diabetes when the blood glucose levels are not controlled. Other complications that can develop are eye disease, kidney failure, dental disease, heart disease, stroke and amputations – due to poor circulation in the extremities, in the legs, feet and fingers. Additionally, neuropathy is not limited to just ED. It depends on which nerves of the body have become damaged due to the long periods of high glucose (sugar) levels. NIDDK/NIH list other symptoms caused by nerve damage that both men as well as women can experience, these are:
1. Numbness, tingling, or pain in the toes, feet, legs, hands, arms, and fingers
wasting of the muscles of the feet or hands
2. Indigestion, nausea, or vomiting
3. Diarrhea or constipation
4. Dizziness or faintness due to a drop in blood pressure after standing or sitting up
problems with urination
5. Erectile dysfunction in men or vaginal dryness in women
6. Patients who notice any of these symptoms are encouraged to tell their doctor immediately.
This article was written in recognition of November being diabetes awareness month.