Treating Diabetes: Talking about sex?
If you are man with diabetes, you might want to inform your treating physician about how your sex life is going.
That’s because there’s a strong link between diabetes and erectile dysfunction (ED). According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of men with diabetes experience ED at some point. And the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reports that diabetic men may experience ED ten to fifteen years earlier than men who don’t have diabetes.
Diabetes can damage the nerves and blood vessels needed for a man to sustain an erection. Normally, when a man is sexually aroused, a signal goes from his brain to his penis and starts the erection process. If there is nerve damage, this signal cannot be transmitted properly and the erection will either not happen or not be firm enough for sexual intercourse.
Similarly, in a healthy man, the sexual stimuli will cause the blood vessels in the penis to relax and expand, allowing the penis to fill with blood and become erect. But if there is blood vessel damage, this won’t happen the way it should.
In most cases, ED is caused by underlying physical problems. Diabetes is just one. Others include heart disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, obesity, low testosterone, tobacco use, and alcoholism.
The good news is, ED very is treatable and a variety of options exist for men with diabetes. Common treatments include medication, injections, or devices like vacuum erection devices (VED). Sex therapy can also help men whose ED stems from psychological causes.
So it seems that treatment for ED would be the key to solving some of these issues. The problem is – a lot of men don’t want to discuss their sexual problems, even with their health care providers. Many don’t want to admit that they’re having trouble in the bedroom because it makes them feel “less of a man.” They may feel embarrassed and nervous or think that their physician can’t help them.
Sexual performance is often tied closely to a man’s identity and self-esteem. Therefore, it’s not surprising that men with ED can be stressed and anxious about it. They may feel inadequate because they cannot please their partner and worry that their partner will go elsewhere for sexual satisfaction.
Relationship problems are a common complication of erectile dysfunction. Sexual issues aren’t always easy for a couple to talk about. They may isolate themselves and withdraw from the relationship. The more anxious a man feels about ED, his sexual performance, and his relationship, the worse the ED becomes.
Eventually, depression and anxiety can interfere with other aspects of his health, his other relationships, his job, and his overall well-being.
Communication about ED is important. Sexual Health is becoming a more common topic. More men and women are taking the necessary steps for better health and wellness…a healthier lifestyle.
At DOSH, We are here for you when you are ready for us.
Department of Sexual Health