Men, Sex, and Diabetes

The content of this column might not be suitable for younger readers.

| Feb 1, 2007

When it comes to sex and diabetes, it’s sometimes hard not to get discouraged. Estimates of the number of diabetic men who experience sexual dysfunction range from 20 percent to a stunning 80 percent. And men with diabetes are three times more likely to experience sexual problems than men without diabetes.

Neuropathy, or nerve damage, is the primary culprit, but other contributors are lack of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps dilate your blood vessels, and damage to the blood vessel walls, which also reduces blood flow to the penis. On top of this, there are the medications that are often prescribed to men with diabetes, which can have side effects that cause difficulties with sexual functioning.

Peter, Meet ED

Fortunately, discussion about sexual dysfunction’s come a long way. For something that was never mentioned in good company, it’s out of the closet in a big way. It’s even got its own nickname these days: ED, for Erectile Dysfunction. The new openness is due in large part to Viagra, which brought ED out into the open and made it much less embarrassing to talk about with your doctor. Viagra, one of a group of drugs that also includes Cialis and Levitra, works by increasing blood flow to the penis and blocking the enzyme that allows blood to drain from the penis. As a result, an erection occurs naturally and stays around for quite awhile.

What’s Up, Doc?

Your doctor might tell you that Viagra is not for you because you have physical conditions that won’t allow it, you’re taking medications that don’t mix well with it, or your particular condition won’t respond to it. Nevertheless, you’re well on your way to a solution just because you’ve managed to bring up the topic of ED with your doctor. Now you can begin to discuss the plethora of other options that are available to restore your sex life. There’s a real can-do attitude out there when it comes to ED, and there’s no reason why you won’t be able to find something that works for you.

You might want to try penile injection therapy, in which you inject a medication directly into the penis that causes blood vessels to widen, allowing blood to flow more freely and create an erection. The idea of an injection might be a bit threatening, but in fact it’s really simple and works well for many men.

To use another method, known as intra-urethral pellet therapy, you place a tiny medicated pellet inside the tip of the penis. As the pellet dissolves, it releases medication that increases blood flow and causes stiffness in about five to ten minutes.

Then there’s the vacuum pump. To use this, you place a plastic device over the penis, and a vacuum withdraws all the air from around it, causing blood to flow into the penis and making it rise like a balloon. Then you put a constriction ring around the base of the penis to hold the blood in place. It’s a bit bulky and awkward to use at first, but it’s cheap and easy, and it often does the trick If these simpler treatments are unsuccessful, there are about 15 different models of penile prostheses available for surgical implant, and they’re far more sophisticated than they used to be. One, for instance, involves placement of two silicon rods into the penis, which keep it in a state of semi-erection constantly. Your doctor or urologist can tell you about the others and whether one might be right for you.

Talk It Over

Of course, it’s important to talk to your partner about what you’re going through if you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction. Sometimes just worrying about ED can cause ED, so talking to your partner might be all it takes. If you think it might help you, sex therapy is an option that can teach you and your partner about paths to satisfying sex that you may not have considered.

The most important thing, however, is not to give up. Sex is extremely important to a healthy life. After having sex, hormones are released in men that contribute to a feeling of love and attachment. You don’t want to let those feelings die. Go ahead and talk to your doctor about ED. It’s a very common problem, and it’s very often fixable. And remember to tell your partner what’s going on, because even if medical solutions aren’t your cup of tea, there’s more than one way to have sex—even if ED’s in bed with you.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Sexual Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 5 December 2007

my husband and i do have sex every week and two weeks after he was diagnosed with diabetes, he is no longer interested in having sex. i have the knowledge that some diabetic men suffer from ED, and i was just waiting for him to talk it out with me but he never did. i guess he still feels depressed about the findings and not yet comfortable to talk about it with me. but i still hope that what we had before will come back.

Posted by Anonymous on 15 January 2008

I am a male diabetic which was diagnosed when I was 40 which was 5 years ago. I suffer from Ed. My problem is the inexperience of some Drs and the lack of awareness in dealing with Ed. To the corresponding Ladies I had a voracious apetite for sex but that has almost gone and so does your confidence.
Mr P

Posted by HCM on 20 February 2008

There is a big problem regarding getting useful info on this topic. As a man who doesn't know all the medical terminology (and has no desire to learn it it just to read an article), we need common sense answers to basic questions.

1) Does the actual glucose reading have an immediate direct effect on the male sex organ?

2) Many herbal remedies promise results; are any herbal supplements effective at all?

3) Does diabetes actually have any direct effect on the desire to have sex?

The things that i have found helpful:

a) Exercising regularly lowers the problems.

b) Many medications will give male problems, and if so, ask your doctor if you can use a lower dosage. My doctor almost always agreed to try it.

c) I do use some homeopathic remedies: L-Arginine and Ginseng for male issues, and Cinnamon, chromium, and fenugreek to help blood sugar control. They do seem to work for me.

d) Two supplements I have found helpful that are not on the radar of most doctors: Vitamin B5 (not readily available in most stores) lowers triglycerides, and magnesium (400 mg/day) lowers blood pressure; both without side effects.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 February 2008

First of all... no wife should divorce her diabetic husband. If you ever remembered why you were married to him in the first place, then you should also be able to embrace his health conditions. Men love sex, and losing that ability to satisfy their love ones is already heart breaking... losing his wife over it... is like a double stab at his wounded pride! Be reasonable and understanding to his plight.

Posted by Anonymous on 27 February 2008

It has been about 5 years since my husband and I have had sex. I bring it up to him once in a while, but nothing. I miss it! I think what makes me upset is that he does nothing about it, no help, no meds, nothing. I don't know how to address it or get an answer from him. Any ideas?

Posted by Anonymous on 28 February 2008

As a man it is disheartening to discuss your inability to satisfy your mate. Diabetes and Ed contributed to a divorce, as my wife at the time was not supportive of my using a vacuum pump. Meds very seldom worked for me, I am now in a realtionship where my mate is compassionate and supportive, she did have some concerns with the pump as unromantic, and lacking in spontaniety. However...after many years of not having sex, I am able to satisfy my mate and again enjoy a healthy relationship... exercise and good blood sugar helps prevent worsening, but I still need assistance of the pump. Oral sex can be another way of satisfying your spouse...but the pump now has made a big difference...takes a little bit of getting use to it, but well worth the ability for full intimacy with the one you love

Posted by Anonymous on 16 March 2008

Is there a worse disease than this diabetic thing? I can't believe God could create such a devilious trouble for men. It is killing me. It is taking all my faith in God away. Why me or why sb else ? I don't want any soul in the world to suffer this unfortunate disease. Won't docs ever be able to find a cure? How it changed my life so suddenly ! it sucks seeing your body getting out of your control. Can anybody name one part of your body which is not affected by diabetis? Eye,ears, kidneys, feet, mind, sexual power, you name it ! God I hate you!

Posted by tana on 27 April 2008

my situation is that my girlfriend and i are planning to have a baby and i am diabetic and i have a quesion my question is if my baby will have diabidies too is there a high percentage he/she will?

Posted by Anonymous on 30 May 2008

I am very passionate woman and has a voracious sex drive, i never seem to be able to get enough. I met my b/f online and were chat mates for many years, but i met him for the 1st time in march, he is a type 2 insulin dependent. I love him very much and we had a great time, although with it's trials, he never said no, not once.....but his body sure did that for first I was extremely worried that it was me who was a turn off cos he told me that i was wild and insatiable, but came to accept his reassurance that it was nothing to do with me.
Then to my horror, he got very ill upon his return to his country, you can imagine how I felt. I am so upset, worried and very scared that he wouldn't return but again he says that;s not so and it's not my fault, and to make matters worse, the doctors cannot find the cause of his illness. :(
It's been almost 2 months and he has not recovered completely as yet.
Has anyone ever had such an experience?

Posted by corilessjon on 17 September 2008

My husband is a diabetic. Why does the penis become raw even when we are not actively having intercourse?

Posted by Anonymous on 20 September 2008

My lover has ED from nerve damage that results in depression for him. We have a wonderful sex life(oral)and it makes no difference to me that we have not had intercourse. He has tried penile injection therapy to now aval. Currently he is researching the vacuum pump. I am praying this works for him because he wants to feel complete again as a man. What he thinks about himself is what matters the most to me. How can I continue to support him so that his depressed states are not so bad? In my eyes he is a perfect man.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 September 2008

I am a 23 man, type1 diabetic for five years. I love my g/f and we decided to have sex for the first time in life but I have some fears to be unable to satisfy her sexual desire...... so please I want some one to advice me to have some background informations about what should I consider through this and thanks anyway.

Posted by Anonymous on 30 December 2008

I have had type 2 diabetes..on insulin and have been in a few relationships...and yes..ive tried the oral ED medicines sometime s helping and sometimes not doing anything to help the situation..i do not stay erect very long to reach orgasm. Diabetes sucks...

Posted by skip690009 on 1 January 2009

Glad I found this place. I hope to learn more. I do not like this ED problem, and I want to get back the old feelings I had before.
Thank you.

Posted by Anonymous on 22 January 2009

To any young man reading this that may be scared. I hope that you keep your focus on controlling your diabetes as well as you can, exercising and eating right...and when a loving relationship comes your way, do NOT let diabetes keep you from accepting that love and responding to it with an open heart. My very beautiful daughter fell in love with a wonderful, beautiful guy that just happens to be a type 1 diabetic. She loves him for his many wonderful qualities and for his faith in God. He has started to withdraw from her, even though I know his feelings for her are real. I think he may be struggling with fears and issues that he just has not learned to cope with yet. My daughter wants to stand by him thru thick and thin, no matter what, in sickness and in health(when they were ready for that commitment of course!), but he is pulling away from her and doubting himself. My daughter and I both completely understand this and have great compassion for the inner struggles he may be dealing with. I just want to let any young man reading this to know that although Diabetes is a cross you bear(you should embrace that cross because it just may be what helps makes you a saint if you so choose to allow it to!:), and it is a daily part of your life and does have an impact, it does NOT define who you are as a child of GOD worthy of the BEST kind of love and companionship in this life!!:) You are beautiful, unique, special and worthy of a wonderful loving relationship with the woman of your dreams. Do not let anything or anyone make you question your incredible worth or keep you from Gods love. We will all have to bear some kind of cross in life...let us all have the love and courage to help each other carry our crosses along the way when we get weary. God Bless you!

Posted by Anonymous on 28 March 2009

I am completely in love with a man who has diabetes. I did not know there was an issue with diabetes and ED. He only mentioned it tonight. We have had sex, and I noticed he was very intent on pleasing me orally. I just want to say to all the guys with diabetes and ED that it completely doesn't matter to women who really love you. I love him so much and I don't care. His health is far more important to me.

Posted by PIR ABDUL JAVED on 18 May 2009


Posted by Anonymous on 27 September 2014

I met a guy whom I think has diabetes. He has been revealing it to me slowly but, surely. I haven't known him very long but, I have very strong feelings for him. This is very new to me, to deal with a man 11 years younger than I am. He seems to feel as though we have to have sex or it's problem. Well, for me, it doesn't matter. I want sex sometimes but, not all of the time. I love having him to hold and kiss me. He makes me feel so safe and secure. These are things which are important to me. I believe God placed me in his life and him in mine to give each other what we both are missing or lacking. ED doesn't matter to me. Seeing him, hugging him and talking to him makes me very happy. I hope that he knows and understand that ED doesn't matter. I believe I am here to be his support system. I Thank God For The Opportunity! I care for him very deeply!

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