Impotence and Diabetes
There is no reason why people with
diabetes should not enjoy their sex life. Impotence does not affect
all men with diabetes and having diabetes does not mean that you will
automatically have problems but if it happens then there are things
that can be done to help.
What is impotence?
is also called erectile dysfunction (ED). It means that you may not be
able to get or keep an erection for long enough to have sexual intercourse
with your partner.
How common is it?
All men can and will
experience failure to achieve an erection at some time in their lives
and this increases with age. Approximately one in ten men over the age
of 40 has ED whether they have diabetes or not. This figure can rise
to three in ten in diabetes.
How will it affect me?
history men have linked their self worth to the performance of their
penis. If your penis fails you, you may feel that you are no longer ‘a
man’ but that is not at all true. You may
feel embarrassed, frustrated and guilty – as if it’s your
fault and you have done something wrong. It is important that you feel
you can seek help for this problem especially if it has become distressing.
Keeping it a secret may cause worry and do more harm than telling somebody
and getting help. Don’t forget that it may also affect your
partner in the same way and they may start to fell rejected or even
angry. Not talking to each other about it will make matters worse.
What causes impotence?
is generally accepted that the causes of impotence are complex. It may
have physical or psychological causes or be a mix of the two.
The psychological factors are very important.
Stress in your life, problems in your relationship and worrying about
your sexual performance and about whether you are going to be able
to get an erection will can cause impotence in their own right.
is an obvious cause as are a number of illegal drugs.
used to treat high blood pressure and depression can cause it.
of the circulation causing hardening or narrowing of the arteries
that prevent blood from pumping up the penis to make it stiff. Sometimes
the veins inside the penis are leaky and can’t hold the
blood in the penis to keep it stiff.
Operations on your bowel, prostate
or bladder or damage to your spinal cord may cause impotence damaging
the nerves that connect to the penis.
A lack of testosterone, a male
hormone, can cause impotence and a loss of interest in sex.
in its own right, can also cause damage to muscles, nerves or blood
supply to the penis, all of are needed to get an erection.
with diabetes may experience anxiety related to the fear of hypoglycaemia
How do I know
if the cause is mainly psychological?
factors always play a part and sometimes they are the main cause
of the problem. Think about all the factors that are causing you
stress and worry and how they might be affecting you and think about
you alcohol intake. A good guide is that if you get good erections
when you wake up in the morning or whilst masturbating but not whilst
trying to have sex with your partner, then it may well be a psychological
problem. Even so, seek help if you are finding difficulty dealing
Seeking advice and what care to
If you are worried about impotence then talk to your
medical team about it – they cannot help if they do not know.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you may be experiencing problems
Men are often too embarrassed to ask questions about their sex life.
Discuss it with your partner first if you can. You may decide that you
do no want to have anything done about impotence and that you are happy
as you are. There is nothing wrong in that. However, if you do then wish
to seek help or further advice, then approach your GP or your Diabetes
Specialist team. Remember they are used to talking to people about these
They will take a full history of the problem and
examine you. They will review your medications. Blood tests will be
arranged. At the end of that process they will be able to tell you
what the most likely cause of the problem is. Then, there usually some
simple advice that can be given and there is a wide a range of treatments
available if needed. Provided the tests have not shown some other problem,
and there is no reason why you should no take them, then you are most
likely to be given a test dose of a tablet by mouth such as Viagra.
If all of this doesn’t
help, then there is a specialist service for impotence to which you can
be referred to take matters further.