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    Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes

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    It is estimated that about 35% to 75% of men with diabetes will experience at least some degree of erectile dysfunction -- also called ED or impotence -- during their lifetime.

    Men with diabetes tend to develop erectile dysfunction 10 to 15 years earlier than men without diabetes. As men with diabetes age, erectile dysfunction becomes even more common. Above the age of 50, the likelihood of having difficulty with an erection occurs in approximately 50% to 60% of men with diabetes. Above age 70, there is about a 95% likelihood of having some difficulty with erectile dysfunction.

    Why Do Men With Diabetes Have Erectile Dysfunction?

    The causes of erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes are complex and involve impairments in nerve, blood vessel, and muscle function.

    To get an erection, men need healthy blood vessels, nerves, male hormones, and a desire to be sexually stimulated. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control erection. Therefore, even if you have normal amounts of male hormones and you have the desire to have sex, you still may not be able to achieve a firm erection.

    What Treatments Are Available for Men With Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction?

    Men with diabetes having trouble with achieving and/or maintaining an erection can take oral medications like sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra), tadalafil (Adcirca,Cialis), avanafil (Stendra), or vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn).

    However, because people with diabetes also tend to have problems with their heart, these medications may not be appropriate and could cause dangerous interactions with some heart medicines. Talk to your doctor to determine what treatment is best.

    Additional treatments men with diabetes might want to consider include intracavernous injection therapy, vacuum erection (not constriction) devices, venous constriction devices (for venous leak syndrome), intraurethral therapy, penile prostheses (inflatable and malleable), and sex therapy.

    So what treatment is best? It depends on many factors including a man's health and his ability to tolerate the treatment. Ask your doctor if you should see a specialist (a urologist) to determine the best treatment for your situation.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Stuart Bergman, MD on January 16, 2016
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