There are many well-known complications that can occur for a person with diabetes. Yet, often men with diabetes are uncomfortable discussing the issue of impotence with their doctor or pharmacist.
According to the American Diabetes Association, impotence occurs in 50-60% of all men over the age of 50 who have diabetes. This common side effect can have several diabetes-related causes and typically is easily treated be a doctor.
Nerve disease is the most common cause, with damaged autonomic nerves preventing small blood vessels from relaxing. As a result, vessels can’t expand with the blood flow required to make the penis erect. Proper testing can determine if nerve damage is the cause of the patient’s impotence and can point to the treatment.
Blood vessel damage can also cause problems. Large blood vessels in the penis may be blocked, making it difficult to achieve erection. Doctors can diagnose blood vessel damage as the cause of impotence by comparing penile blood pressure with a blood pressure reading from the patient’s arm.
Men with poorly controlled diabetes may have poor testosterone, thyroid, and prolactin levels. By measuring the levels of these hormones, doctors can decide if this is the cause of impotence. If so, medication can usually adjust hormone levels back to normal.
Common medications used to treat high blood pressure, anxiety, depression or ulcers can also cause impotence. Switching medications may solve the problem. But it is crucial to discuss medication changes with your doctor before you stop taking any prescription.
Not all diabetes patients suffering from impotence have diabetes-related causes. Stress and other mental health problems, as well as smoking and alcohol use can worsen sexual dysfunction.
If you experience impotence, speak to your doctor. A simple physical examination can determine the cause and help your doctor find effective treatment. Several treatments exist, ranging from medications or hormone shots to implants. Your doctor can work with you to find the treatment option best for you.