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Sex and Diabetes: Erectile Dysfunction Fixes

Treat Your ED

"There is a treatment for absolutely every man," says Janis Roszler, a diabetes educator, marriage therapist, and author of Sex and Diabetes: For Him and For Her. The best treatment for you depends on things like the nature of the problem and other health issues you have.

  • Oral drugs. Sildenafil citrate (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil HCI (Levitra, Staxyn) boost blood flow to the penis during stimulation. The most common side effects, like headaches and stuffy nose, are usually mild and temporary. Side effects like erections that last for hours are rare. Oral drugs are the most common treatment and work well for up to 60% of men with diabetes who take them.
  • Shots. A shot of alprostadil (Caverject, Edex) widens blood vessels, helping blood flow in up to 90% of men with diabetes. You can inject it into the base of your penis up to three times a week. The main downsides are burning in the testicles and lingering erections.
  • Suppositories. Alprostadil (Muse) also comes in tiny pellets -- the size of a grain of rice -- that you put into the tip of your penis to relax the muscles and widen the blood vessels. You can use them twice a day. They work in about 35% of men.
  • Devices. Vacuum pumps, available over the counter at drugstores, draw blood into the penis, helping it get hard. If you have trouble keeping an erection, you can follow with a constriction band around the base of the penis to keep the blood there once it's erect. Support sleeves, which hold the penis in place during sex, are also an option if you can't get an erection.
  • Penile implants. This may be the best option if you have advanced diabetes and severe ED that doesn't respond to other treatments. The most natural implants are inflatable devices with fluid-filled cylinders that are placed in the erection chambers of the penis. You control an implanted pump that moves the fluid into the cylinders to create an erection.

Treat Your Low Testosterone

"Low testosterone can have a huge effect on your life, but the nice thing is it's so easy to treat," Roszler says. You can use testosterone gels, patches, shots, or pellets.

Testosterone replacement therapy can boost your energy, sex drive, erections, muscle mass, and mood. In a 2013 study, it improved all aspects of sex as well as the overall quality of life of obese men with type 2 diabetes. The impact was smaller for the men who were more obese or depressed, though -- another good reason to also lose weight or get help for depression.

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Reviewed on February 11, 2015