Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Diabetes has been recognized as the fastest-growing chronic condition, responsible for millions of deaths globally. According to the American Urological Association, it affects more than 29 million Americans, 9.3% of the population. Just like many other life-threatening diseases, diabetes has many co-occurring conditions and symptoms that spread into other aspects of life. 

Some of the connected urological health issues are bladder problems, urinary tracts infections, and erectile dysfunction. There are several different types of diabetes, but the most common types are type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar or blood glucose is too high. Our bodies need glucose derived from the food we eat as the primary source of fuel for the body. A hormone called insulin helps the glucose to enter the body’s cells that need it. 

For people without diabetes, this is a naturally-occurring process. However, for those with type 1 diabetes, the condition renders the body unable to produce insulin at all. For those with type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t make proper use of insulin. 

The absence or insufficiency of insulin causes the glucose that should be absorbed into the cells to remain in the blood. Too much glucose in the blood can harm other organs, which will eventually result in other health conditions. One of these common effects is erectile dysfunction.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient or firm enough for sexual intercourse. It can be caused by physical or psychological factors, which affect the body’s neurotransmitters responsible for the libido, erection, and orgasm. ED can be either occasional or occur frequently and affects more than 30 million men in the United States.

Can Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Unfortunately, diabetes can be the cause of erectile dysfunction. As stated above, any negative impact on your certain organs of the body can affect your erection function. Medically, it has been proven that anything that affects blood circulation can be a cause for ED as blood flow is crucial in men’s sexuality. It is then not surprising why erectile dysfunction is a common experience in men who have diabetes. While there are many health issues that can be responsible for ED, studies have consistently established that diabetes is one of the most common.

One study revealed that 35–37% of men with diabetes will eventually develop erectile dysfunction. They are also more prone to having difficulties in their sexual performance 10-15 years earlier compared to men without diabetes. 

In another study, which compared the rate of urological complications in men and women with type 1 diabetes, it was found that sexual dysfunction cases were more prevalent among males. The results also showed that 62% of them had at least one complication. It further revealed that the most common among these issues was erectile dysfunction. 

Breaking down some of the different effects that ED has among diabetic men, low sexual desire (LD) and orgasm dysfunction were recorded as having the highest occurrences compared to other accompanying disorders. The researchers attributed these findings to age and poor diabetes control. 

Low sexual desire can be caused by psychological problems such as depression, which is another common effect of diabetes, as depression prevalence is two to three times higher in people with diabetes. Other associated ED symptoms reported were urinary tract infection, poor bladder emptying, and other urinary incontinence disorders.

In addition, a study published by the American Diabetes Association examines the effects of ED on the quality of life in men with diabetes. The research showed that ED negatively impacts both general and disease-specific health-related quality of life. Generally, factors regular need for special health care, monitoring glucose levels, careful eating, and exercising are some of the day-to-day living experiences of diabetic men with ED.

Having ED as a co-occurring diabetes disorder typically presents patients with even more issues. Research has found that, regardless of whether or not they have ED, diabetic men have always identified ED as one major factor that can impact their quality of life. While health practitioners might not be aware of this, patients believe its treatment is as crucial as other associated conditions of ED. 

A survey showed that diabetic men believe that, after kidney disease and blindness, ED is the next most important complication they would want to be checked and treated for. It was also shown that participants were willing to pay more to avoid ED than all other conditions after blindness or kidney disease. This indicates that regardless of men’s health condition, sexual activity remains one of the most important aspects of life.

How Diabetes Can Cause ED

Libido, erection, and orgasm are the three key components of men’s sexual life. The occurrence of one leads to another before, during, and after each sexual encounter. While the penis is the main physical organ for sexual intercourse, the primary stimulants are the cells responsible for blood flow to the penile area. 

One of the chemicals that expands the artery vessels for blood flow is called nitric oxide. It is produced by endothelium, blood vessel lining. Maintaining a healthy heart, physical activity, and low cholesterol support the endothelium and allow it to produce sufficient nitric oxide.

However, for men with diabetes, the presence of high blood sugar inhibits the endothelium, which means less nitric oxide. Less nitric oxide will, in turn, mean insufficient blood flow to obtain and/or maintain an erection.

Is Erectile Dysfunction Treatable?

While erectile dysfunction is a difficult condition, the good news is that there are many treatment options that can help you overcome it. The applications of these treatments vary widely. They include:

  • Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors
  • Vacuum erection devices
  • Intraurethral suppositories
  • Penile implant surgery
  • Intracavernosal injection therapy 
  • Low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy

Treating Erectile Dysfunction With Shockwave Therapy

Over the past several years, shockwave therapy has begun to gain recognition as one of the most preferred treatments for erectile dysfunction. Although it is a relatively new method, the science behind it is promising. There is a large body of literature supporting shockwave therapy’s ability to improve erectile function.

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy is a noninvasive treatment that uses low-intensity sound waves to generate restorative and repairing effects. It does this by unclogging penile arteries and clearing the plaque that affects blood vessels while stimulating the regenerative process of new blood vessels. Diabetes and other effects associated with ED usually result in plaque build-up in the blood vessels. The result of this build-up is narrowed, hardened, or blocked arteries, decreasing sexual performance.

Clinicians perform shockwave therapy by targeting different areas of the penis. Before the treatment, the penile area will be coated with a numbing gel to help induce the desired effects. As the therapy is being performed, you will likely feel a slight tingling sensation in the treatment area. However, it is a painless method that doesn’t require the use of anesthesia for most men. 

A shockwave therapy session for ED lasts between 15 to 20 minutes with almost no recovery time, meaning you can leave immediately and continue your daily activities. It not only produces long-lasting effects, but you will begin to experience results soon after the treatment will be able to have sexual intercourse as early as a week after undergoing the treatment. There are some who were even able to perform the night they had the treatment.

Can a Diabetic Patient Use Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy has, for a long time, been used to treat diabetic-related conditions such as foot ulcers, heart diseases, and several other health issues. To date, the method has not been known to have any adverse effect on patients.

However, as a patient with diabetes or any chronic ailment, it is highly recommended that you seek your doctor’s advice before using shockwave therapy. It may not be an ideal option if you have severe diabetes, severe venous therapy, or have undergone pelvic surgeries, a prostatectomy, or a radical prostatectomy.

How Shockwave Therapy MD Can Help

Erectile dysfunction caused by diabetes or other factors can be treated with the timely intervention of specialized medical experts. You also stand a better chance of getting satisfactory results if you are treated with the latest medical technology for the condition. This is where Shockwave Therapy MD comes in.

Here at Shockwave Therapy, we have a team of highly experienced medical practitioners dedicated to helping men attain and maintain optimal sexual performance with shockwave therapy. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all method. We will evaluate your case and map a customized treatment routine that best suits your needs. Booking an appointment with us today is as easy as contacting us here.


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