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Erectile dysfunction and diabetes

Erectile dysfunction is more common in men who have diabetes. However, having diabetes doesn't mean a man will definitely develop erection problems.

Erectile dysfunction means not being able to get an erection or stay erect for satisfactory sex.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that men with type 2 diabetes are asked about sexual function at their diabetes annual review. It may be a warning sign of other complications of diabetes, such as heart disease.

Erectile dysfunction may be the first symptom of diabetes in men who have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes.

How diabetes can affect erections

When the brain triggers an erection, blood flows into the penis to make it hard.

With high blood sugar levels, over time blood vessel and nerve damage can affect this process.

Blood may not flow as well, and sexual sensations may be affected by the nerve problems.

Around half of all men with diabetes will experience erectile dysfunction, and the likelihood of it happening increases as a man gets older.

As well as these physical causes, emotional issues can make erectile dysfunction more likely. Once problems have been experienced, a man may also be concerned about it happening again in future.

Medication can also affect erections, including some blood pressure drugs, which may be taken by people with diabetes.

Alongside diabetes, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight and not taking enough exercise increase the risk of erection problems.

If you have diabetes and are concerned about erectile dysfunction, talk to your GP. They can recommend help for the problem, which may include erectile dysfunction medication.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 12, 2016

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