Once an area reserved for older men who had diabetes for years, sexual problems with diabetes have “come out of the closet” of late.
For men, this mainly means erectile dysfunction (ED), which can be caused by either blood flow problems or neuropathy. If blood does not flow properly to the area, men will have difficulty getting an erection even if they feel aroused. Neuropathy can also cause failure of the nerves to “pinch off the balloon” or contract, in order to hold in the blood necessary to maintain an erection – all this according to Janis Roszler, co-author of the book Sex and Diabetes and a nationally recognized medical expert on the subject.
One of the biggest problems in this area is that men don’t like to talk about sexual problems, Roszler says. Only about 5% ask for help, which is a shame because ED is very treatable.
Doctors generally start with oral pills including Viagra, Levitra or Cialis. They may also try injections of a substance called Caverjet, or possibly a suppository medicine to increase blood flow to the penis. “For those who have trouble getting an erection, a vacuum pump will work for most men, but they may be embarrassed to introduce a ‘prop’ into the relationship. They need to be trained properly, and have open communication with their partner so they feel comfortable,” Roszler says. In order to keep an erection, your doctor may recommend using a constriction band. “I don’t recommend it, but a lot of guys just use broccoli bands,” Roszler says.
Some resources to learn more about ED and how it is treated:
- WebMD Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes
- The Mayo Clinic – Erectile Dysfunction Treatments
- dLife — Men, Diabetes, and Erectile Dysfunction