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Sex and Diabetes: Erectile Dysfunction Fixes

By Camille Peri
WebMD Feature

When you think of what it means to have diabetes, "great sex" may not come to mind. But it could.  

"Someone who has diabetes should be able to enjoy sex as much and as regularly as someone who doesn't have it," says David G. Marrero, PhD, president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association. "You just need to think about it a little more and educate yourself if you want a long, full sex life."

Skeptical? After all, in men, diabetes can cause issues from low libido to trouble getting an erection. But experts say that controlling your diabetes well can prevent sexual issues or make existing issues milder and easier to treat. In men with diabetes, most treatments work well.

Here are some of most common sexual concerns and how to prevent or treat them.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) -- not being able to get or keep an erection -- is the main sexual complaint for men with diabetes. Of course, all men have trouble with erections sometimes, especially as they age.  But if you have diabetes, you're twice as likely to have ED and at a younger age.

You have ED if you have trouble with erections one out of every four times. Nerve and artery damage from poor diabetes control is a likely cause because it disrupts blood flow to your penis. You're also more likely to have heart disease because of this damage, which slows blood flow to your heart. 

ED can bring your mood down. It can lower your self-esteem, make you depressed and anxious in bed, and cause stress between you and your partner.

Low Sex Drive

On the other hand, if you just don't have much desire for sex, you may have low testosterone. Like ED, low testosterone is more likely in men as they age. But having diabetes, especially if it is type 2 or you are overweight (or both), doubles your chances of having it.

You can feel the effects of low testosterone in many areas of life. Your energy, muscle strength, and mood may be low, as well as your sexual desire. You may have fewer and weaker erections.

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