Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a possible complication of diabetes. If it is allowed to remain untreated, it may affect adversely the love life of the partners. It has the potential to trigger a number of negative forces: frustration, increased stress, mild or severe depression, and may even affect the management of diabetes by the person involved. On the other hand, it can be controlled and treated that shall allow the person involved to lead a satisfied sexual life. Mayo Clinic describes this condition and its affect in these words: "Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection of sufficient rigidity for sexual intercourse. That is, your penis fails to become or stay hard enough. Erectile dysfunction, also called impotence, isn't fleeting or isolated sexual failure, which many men experience at some point in their life. Rather, it's erectile failure more than 75 percent of the time during attempted intercourse. Erectile dysfunction isn't the same as having low sexual desire or having problems with ejaculation and orgasm."
Any man can develop the condition of erectile dysfunction, but the condition is more pronounced in men with diabetes. Reports suggest that around 80% of men with diabetes may develop this condition compared to around 22% to 25% of men without diabetes. Further, this condition develops at an early age in men with diabetes compared to men without diabetes. Men without diabetes may develop this condition normally after the age of 25 while men with diabetes may develop this condition in their 30s or sometimes even earlier. Normally, it occurs after 10 to 15 years of onset of diabetes.
Diabetes is not the only reason for erectile dysfunction though diabetes accelerates this condition. Other causes include both physical and psychological causes - heart and liver disease, trauma and surgery, general or severe depression, worries about sexual performance. Some medicines also causes this condition, for instance, medications for treatment of high blood pressure, may result into temporary erectile dysfunction in some men. Diabetes, however, plays a bigger role in accelerating this condition, mainly in three ways:
- Nerve disease arising on account of diabetes contributes to this condition,
- Damage to blood vessels accentuates this condition,
- Poor management and control of blood sugar leads to this condition.
Management, prevention and avoidance of erectile dysfunction involves the following steps:
- Controlling blood sugar
- Stopping smoking
- Not using any illegal drugs like marijuana
- Avoiding use of excessive alcohol
- Reducing risk of heart disease
- Treating high blood pressure
- Maintaining proper cholesterol level
- Seeking psychological guidance
- Lowering stress level in day-to-day lefe
- Seeking medical consultation
- Consultations with a urologist