Diabetes can cause a wide range of health problems in men, including penile issues. As Jenny De Jesus, RN, CDE, a diabetes educator at the Beth Israel Medical Center explains, “Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage in blood vessels and nerves.” These problems can therefore reduce the ability to experience sexual pleasure, leading to a lackluster sex life and causing in some cases issues with self-esteem and confidence in the bedroom. Understanding how diabetes affects penis health and taking steps to prevent problems can lead to increased sexual satisfaction and a happier life.
Unregulated type 2 diabetes can cause damage to the nervous system, resulting in a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This condition interferes with the ability of the body’s neural network to send signals to and from the brain regarding the sensation of sexual pleasure and the physiological response that leads to erections, orgasm and release of sperm.
In addition, being overweight – a condition which is largely responsible for the incidence of type 2 diabetes – can constrict the blood vessels of the penis, creating numbness and loss of penile sensitivity.
Keeping glucose levels under control is a major factor in protecting penis sensitivity and preserving the ability to enjoy sex. Supporting penis nerve health with nutrients such as the amino acid acetyl L carnitine may help to reduce loss of penis sensitivity and stimulate the regeneration of damaged nerve tissue.
As with the nervous system, the circulatory system can be negatively affected by diabetes. When cardiovascular health is compromised, it may be more difficult for the body to deliver sufficient blood flow to the penis to achieve and maintain an erection. This can lead to sexual dysfunction, as well as further compromising nerve health due to lack of oxygenation of the nerve cells.
Increased risk of infection
Along with many other negative health effects, diabetes can reduce the body’s ability to fight off infections. Men with diabetes are especially prone to penis problems such as yeast infections, bacterial infections and fungal overgrowth. While it may not be possible to prevent every infection from occurring, supporting immune health with nutrients such as vitamin C and treating the area with natural anti-bacterials – vitamin A, for example – may help to deter infections that can cause soreness, swelling, painful intercourse and other unpleasant side effects.
Avoiding diabetes-related penis problems
Diabetes specialists recommend a number of interventions for preventing the problems related to poorly controlled diabetes:
1. Monitor glucose levels as directed by a health care provider and ensure blood sugar is under control.
2. Follow medical dietary recommendations and avoid foods that are high in fats, sugars and cholesterol.
3. Exercise often. Many of the problems caused by diabetes are related to obesity or being overweight, including loss of sensitivity, circulatory problems and cardiovascular health, so keeping body weight to a healthy level is always recommended.
4. Take medications as directed. If the side effects of medications include penis problems, talk to a health care professional about possible alternatives or methods to alleviate the detrimental effects on sexual function.
5. Keep the penis well-supplied with vital nutrients for sexual health. For instance, vitamin C supports healthy circulatory function, while vitamin A helps to fight off infection. Amino acids such as acetyl L carnitine promote nerve tissue health, while alpha lipoic acid stimulates increased blood flow. Using a specialized penis health formula (most health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) can help to ensure that these nutrients are delivered where they are needed to promote optimum sexual function in men who are affected by type 2 diabetes.