Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Type 2 diabetes accounts for roughly 90% of all cases of diabetes. This condition causes the glucose levels to get too high, which in turn triggers frequent urination, fatigue, a slow healing process, frequent infections, and more.

The problem is, that having a healthy sex life is not easy with type 2 diabetes. Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common complications in men with this condition. Based on multiple studies, the overall prevalence of ED in diabetes was 52.5%. In other words, ED affects more than half of diabetic men. 

Here is all you need to know about diabetes and ED.

How Does Diabetes Affect Erections?

Can diabetes cause erectile dysfunction? There are many causes of erectile dysfunction. They can be psychological, physical, or both. One of the most common triggers for ED is diabetes. Diabetes can damage the blood flow to the penis and the nerves in charge of controlling the erection. 

ED symptoms from diabetes can include:

  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Trouble maintaining an erection
  • Decreased sexual desire

Diabetic patients can have drastic blood glucose swings. Especially if they don’t manage their condition properly. During sexual arousal, the body releases nitric oxide into the system. This is helping the muscles and arteries in the penis relax, allowing more blood to reach the penis and get an erection.

But, when the glucose is too high, the body is incapable of producing enough nitric oxide. This, in turn, is hindering circulation to the penis and makes it difficult to get or maintain an erection. 

Reports indicate that the prevalence of ED in diabetic men varies from 35–75% compared to 26% in the general population. Erectile dysfunction also occurs 10 to 15 years sooner in diabetic men than in those without diabetes. 

Top Reasons Diabetes Can Cause ED

Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder. Other than causing high blood sugar levels, which affect blood flow to the penis, this condition can also attack your sexual health on multiple fronts. Here are some of the top reasons diabetes can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes Nerve Damage

One long-term complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). Based on a study, the prevalence of diabetic nerve damage was 28.70% in type 1 diabetic patients, and over 50% in type 2 diabetic patients.

This nerve disorder can disrupt the neural pathways that help with getting and keeping an erection. Men with nerve damage often experience more serious symptoms of impotence and sexual dysfunction. This can have a drastic impact on their quality of life and intimate relationships.

Lower Testosterone Levels

Type 2 diabetic men are twice as likely to have low testosterone compared to the general population. Low T levels can cause ED or loss of sex drive both indirectly and directly. When your testosterone is too low, then your sex drive can go down and you might experience ED. 

Getting an erect penis can depend on testosterone. But, the connection between erectile dysfunction and testosterone is complex. Some men can have a healthy erection despite low T-levels. Still, treating testosterone levels can boost a man’s libido, and mood, and renew his interest in sex.

Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels

Diabetes can damage the lining of the arteries. This makes it easier for the cholesterol to stick to them and block or narrow the arteries. Diabetic men often have high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and low levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. 

When diabetic men don’t control their cholesterol levels, they are more likely to experience damage to the blood vessels. They can have poor blood flow, and blood flow is necessary for getting and keeping an erect penis.

Increased Belly Fat

Many people with type 2 diabetes have a bigger body weight. Most struggle with abdominal fat, which contributes to ED. Being overweight puts you at risk of developing erection problems. Having a larger waist can be a serious problem. It can damage the blood vessels, lead to inflammation, and decrease testosterone. 

Poor Mental Health

Diabetic patients are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, sadness, poor mood, and stress. Managing diabetes is overwhelming and exhausting. So, many men have periods when they feel low and anxious. These psychological stressors can affect their ability to get and keep an erect penis.

Medication Side Effects 

Diabetic men often have to use a range of different medications. This helps them manage their condition and decrease the risk of diabetes complications. But, some of these meds can contribute to ED. Such as antidepressants and blood pressure meds. It’s important to talk to a specialist when taking any medication for diabetes. 

Can Type 2 Diabetes Erectile Dysfunction Be Reversed?

Diabetes and erectile dysfunction can be managed. If you take good control of your type 2 diabetes, you can stop the ED from getting worse over time. But, the symptoms may not improve if you have some nerve damage. Improving glucose levels can help prevent blood vessel and nerve damage.

How Do Diabetics Get Rid of Erectile Dysfunction?

Many people want to know if Viagra is good for diabetes type 2. Oral meds usually work for around 50% of the time for men with diabetes. Some of the best ED pills for diabetics include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra).

If an ED pill doesn’t work, men can try penile pumps. These are non-invasive vacuum erection devices. They use air suction to draw blood into the penis. Other men can try injection therapy, which means injecting the penis with medication to achieve an erection. 

If all other treatments for ED fail, experts can suggest penile implants. These devices go inside the penis and are a more long-term solution lasting about 12 to 15 years. Consult with a doctor if you have diabetes and erectile dysfunction. They can suggest the best form of treatment.


Many diabetic men have ED. This can take a toll on their sex life and ability to enjoy sex. To decrease the symptoms of ED, it is important to take full control of your metabolic condition. Talk to a specialist to find the right ways to manage your type 2 diabetes and achieve satisfying erections.

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