Diabetes is a major metabolic disorder with an ever-increasing prevalence. It is also known to affect sexual health in men and women. Sounds far-fetched? It isn’t. So how does diabetes affect a man sexually? Diabetes may affect every man differently, with symptoms ranging from loss of libido to erectile dysfunction. Let’s learn about diabetes, side effects on males, and male sexual health.
How Does Diabetes Affect Sexual Health in Men?
Wondering how does “sugar” affect a man sexually? Here’s how.
Both Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes can bring about bodily changes that affect sexual health in men. Some of the factors in diabetes that bring about these changes include:
- High blood sugar levels
- Damaged blood vessels
- Nerve damage
- Damage to the autonomic nervous system (ANS)
Diabetes and Sexual Dysfunction in Men: Symptoms
The effects of diabetes on sexual health in men can show up as:
Low Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. Low testosterone levels in men may be referred to as male hypogonadism or testosterone deficiency syndrome.
Research suggests that men with Type 2 Diabetes usually have low testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels may result in a reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, increased body fat, reduced muscle mass, and fatigue in men.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Does diabetes cause erectile dysfunction? Yes, it can. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. With diabetes, erectile dysfunction is a possibility.
Diabetes may damage the blood vessels and nerves in the penis and result in ED. Blood vessels damaged by diabetes can also slow down blood flow into the penis and lead to ED. ED is a common condition among diabetic men. If you experience ED often, diabetes may be the cause.
Peyronie’s disease is a disorder in which scar tissue, called plaque, forms under the skin of the penis, in an elastic membrane called the tunica albuginea.
The tunica albuginea helps keep the penis stiff during an erection. The plaque developing in the membrane pulls on the surrounding tissues and causes the penis to bend, usually during an erection. This can make erections and sexual intercourse painful.
Men who have diabetes-associated erectile dysfunction (ED) are 4 to 5 times more likely to develop Peyronie’s disease.
Diabetes can also cause retrograde ejaculation in men, where some semen is released into the bladder instead of emerging out of the penis during an orgasm. As a result, less semen is released during ejaculation.
Although the semen that is released into the bladder mixes with urine and is removed during urination, retrograde ejaculation may lead to male infertility.
The factors listed above, namely low testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction, and retrograde ejaculation, can all contribute to low fertility in men. Further, diabetes is usually associated with obesity, which may also reduce sperm production and thus, affect fertility in men.
Research also suggests that Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes could have detrimental effects on sperm motility, sperm DNA integrity, and ingredients of seminal plasma (the fluid portion of semen). Thus, diabetes can cause low fertility in men.
Psychological Impact of Sexual Dysfunction in Men
When diabetes affects a man’s sexual life, it can also have various implications on the man’s psychological health.
The lack of sexual desire or inability to satisfy the partner could lead to stress, anxiety, or depression. Low sexual performance may also lead to a lack of confidence or self-esteem. Overall, sexual dysfunction due to diabetes affects the quality of life in multiple ways.
Treatment of Diabetes-Related Sexual Dysfunction in Men
Diabetes-related sexual health problems in men can be treated with various approaches. The treatment will depend on the type and severity of the symptoms.
Treatment can include oral and injectable medications, suppositories, devices, and implants.
Various medications can be used to improve sexual function in men:
- Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) Inhibitors: These are commonly used medications to increase blood supply to the penis and treat erectile dysfunction.
- Testosterone Injections/Gels: External testosterone is used to boost low testosterone levels and improve libido.
- Alprostadil Injections/Suppositories: Alprostadil is a drug that makes blood vessels expand and boosts blood flow to the penis. It can be injected into the penis or placed into the opening at the tip of the penis.
Devices and Implants
Other treatment approaches could include the following:
- Vacuum Pumps: It is a hollow tube put over the penis, which creates a vacuum to draw blood into the penis for an erection.
- Surgical Implants: These could be used when other options have been unable to treat erectile dysfunction. Semirigid or inflatable penile implants are an effective way of maintaining an erection.
Prevention of Diabetes-Related Sexual Dysfunction in Men
To prevent diabetes-related sexual dysfunction, it is important that you take steps to prevent diabetes or high blood sugar levels.
- Eat Healthy: Eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar levels in check, help you lose weight, and also improve your overall health.
- Maintain Weight: Having excess weight around your abdomen can make you insulin resistant and increase your risk of developing diabetes. You can prevent diabetes by losing those extra kilos and maintaining a weight that is appropriate for your height and age.
- Exercise Regularly: Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduces the amount of insulin needed to keep your blood glucose levels under check. Physical activity also helps your body make use of the extra glucose present in your bloodstream as well as the glucose and fat stored in your body.
- Quit Smoking: Nicotine can lower the effectiveness of insulin, causing your blood glucose levels to rise. In the long term, this can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Thus, you should refrain from smoking.
- Limit Alcohol: Excessive and regular alcohol consumption can inflame your pancreas, which can affect its ability to produce insulin. Lowered insulin production can cause high blood sugar levels and Type 2 Diabetes. It is best to steer clear of alcohol.
- Manage Stress: Your body produces cortisol during stress, and over time, its elevated levels can lead to high blood glucose levels and put you at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Avoid stressful triggers and indulge in activities such as yoga and meditation to deal with stress.
- Sleep Better: Getting good quality sleep for a minimum of 7 hours every night can help regulate your blood glucose levels, boost your energy, and also improve your mental health.
- Get Checked: Having your blood glucose levels tested once every 3 to 6 months can help catch any irregularities early. Early detection and treatment of high blood glucose levels or prediabetes can help avoid the development of Type 2 Diabetes in the future.
If you already have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, you can take the above/same steps to maintain your blood glucose levels in a healthy range. It is also important to discuss your condition with a doctor, go for regular visits, and take prescribed medication and/or insulin therapy.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can cause problems with sexual health in men. Various factors in diabetes contribute to sexual dysfunction, including high blood sugar levels, damaged blood vessels, nerve damage, and damage to the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
- The effects of diabetes on sexual health in men can show up as low testosterone levels, erectile dysfunction (ED), Peyronie’s disease, retrograde ejaculation, and low fertility.
- In men, the lack of sexual desire or inability to satisfy the partner could lead to stress, anxiety, or depression. Low sexual performance may also lead to a lack of confidence or self-esteem.
- Diabetes-related sexual health problems in men can be treated with various approaches, depending on the type and severity of the symptoms. Treatment can include oral and injectable medications, suppositories, devices, and penile implants.
- To prevent diabetes-related sexual dysfunction in men, it is important to take steps to prevent diabetes or high blood sugar levels. This can be done by eating healthily, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, and managing stress.
- If you already have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, you can take the same steps (mentioned above) to maintain your blood glucose levels in a healthy range. It is also important to discuss your condition with a doctor, go for regular visits, and take prescribed medication and/or insulin therapy.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
People with diabetes can overcome erectile dysfunction by controlling their blood glucose levels and taking steps to manage diabetes, such as taking prescribed medication, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and doing regular exercise. Additionally, diabetics can use medications, devices, and implants available for treating erectile dysfunction.
People with diabetes can have trouble ejaculating, which could be retrograde ejaculation where the semen goes into the bladder and is excreted with urine. This results in very little or no ejaculation during orgasm. Alternatively, diabetic men can also feel pain during ejaculation due to penile curvature as seen in Peyronie’s disease.
Yes, a diabetic man can get a woman pregnant. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can result in sexual health and fertility problems in men, as the increased blood sugar levels affect ejaculation, sperm quality, and testosterone levels. However, with medication, Insulin therapy, and lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet and exercise, diabetic men can overcome fertility issues and get a woman pregnant. So, the answer to the question, “how does diabetes affect a man sexually”, is that diabetes affects a man’s sexual health in various physical and psychological ways. However, one need not lose hope as these issues are treatable.