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Diabetes And Erectile Dysfunction: Type 1 And Sexual Health

I Am A Type 1 Diabetic. Can It Cause Sexual Dysfunction In Men? Is There A Connection? What Is The Cause, Treatment, Conditions, Complications, And Prevalence?
Shahrokh Shariat, MD
Senior Editor & Writer

Prof. Shariat has published over 1400 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. In 2014 he received the Matula Award from the European Society of Urology (EAU), and in 2017 the Gold Cystoscope Award from the American Society of Urology, probably the most important urologist award worldwide.

How Out Of Control Blood Sugar Impacts Our Mental And Physical Reality…

One of the most significant impacts of erectile dysfunction in men is not necessarily physical. A lot of times it’s an emotional or psychological state. When blood sugar levels become too high or conversely too little, a diabetic will have distortions both mentally and physically.

When blood sugar levels return to normal, we get a sudden reality kick right between the eyes, What then?

Every situation is different; there are ways to prevent these distortions from happening or manage them so that minimal or no personal damage occurs. A few years back, John was dating a beautiful woman. John will think about her daily. When John was with her, he was filled with some excitement and delight, but something happened at the end of their sixth date.

John always recognized himself as a macho man who could easily maintain an erection for hours. So, erectile dysfunction was far removed from his mind. You probably know what happens next but let me move along and not belabor this point.

This Was Understandably An Awkward, Upsetting, And Scary Time For John…

When he wasn’t able to have an erection, luckily his partner was nonchalant about it. The next day they went out for coffee and a slice of chocolate lava cake. John adjusted his insulin and thought things were going great, but in the back of his mind, he was still thinking about what had happened the night before and was very worried.

They got back to his place, set the mood, candles, jazz, and dimmed the lights. Everything was perfect except for John. He was excited and eager but did not rise to the occasion. “What’s wrong with me?” John pondered to himself, and then the little voice in the back of his mind answered him.

John went to check his blood glucose (BG) levels and WOW! He was 390 mg/dL. John couldn’t believe his eyes! John calculated everything correctly, but somewhere John missed it, and here’s what John failed to notice:

He missed the fact that they finished dinner an hour ago, it is difficult for insulin to burn off complex sugars like a chocolate lava cake, so his blood sugar went higher than usual after dinner.

Next, John presumably undervalued some of the carbohydrates in the meal itself.

Lastly, John was so stressed out about the previous night that his body was releasing extra cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by stress and causes imbalances such as hypoglycemia. An Ed medication such as a Pde 5 inhibitor can be used for glycemic control.

John went around for several days worrying that he would have to resort to taking ED treatment like Viagra before sexual activity. The reality was that John just needed to test his blood sugar and wait. The next time they met, they watched a movie while waiting and enjoying their time together.

A few hours later, after making sure his blood sugars had stabilized at 120, they tried again and no erectile dysfunction for this macho man.

They did it right!

In reality, the symptoms of diabetes can mimic other physical and psychological illnesses.

Be careful, double-check the patient isn’t experiencing a diabetes-related problem.

Complications Of Living With Diabetes Mellitus

It gets very complicated for DM patients with this metabolic syndrome; there are a lot of different illness side effects that come with it such as high blood pressure, nerve damage, and urinary incontinence to name a few. You may feel sick on a day-to-day basis. I have been a diabetic for over 34 years. I got diabetes when I was six years old; type 1 diabetes.

One thing is that if diabetic patients don’t keep track of their blood sugar level, they won’t understand why they’re not feeling well. One of the problems with consistently high blood sugars is that depression sets in. Most people look at diabetes and depression and view people with diabetes to be more depressed. But, you don’t know if it’s depression, or it’s the side effects of having high blood sugar levels.

Those high blood sugar levels can mimic depression, giving the person and effect of a lack of energy and desire; some people can’t get out of bed in the morning because their blood sugars are consistently high.

I’ve seen in my practice, people who have used cocaine so they could get up and out every morning to get past it. When those high blood sugars are there, there’s a perfect chance that erectile dysfunction will be right there with it.

Erectile Function

As anyone who cooks knows if you add sugar to something it thickens up. Essentially one of the basic facts that happen is the more sugar that’s in the blood vessel, the harder it is to pump blood flow through the cardiovascular system. There’s less oxygen to the brain and what is getting to the brain is browned with sugar and creates a considerable imbalance creating a cognitive pool of Jell-O.

One example I use now and then is if Phelps was in a pool of Jell-O and everybody else was in a regular pool, how well would he have done, would he have won every single gold medal?

One of the main pieces that come with this is that it’s important to recognize that when someone is with you and they are in front of you, they’re telling you that they are having all these problems, what are their blood sugars right there and then?

For proper Diabetes care, I’ll have them check their blood sugar levels. So I can see what I have to work within the front of me. Because, if I give them all this information verbally and they walk out the door, their retention is gone. Not going to remember it. Their ability to reach in and tell me what’s wrong with them is also hindered because the recall is distorted.

With all these things that are going on with persons just in front of us, just trying to say “hey, I’m having problems in this area!” When we bring it back to erectile dysfunction, the important piece is that when this does happen to a diabetic or anybody who has erectile dysfunction, it’s best to talk about it at the moment.

Oops…I’m Sorry…

Many people keep it to themselves, they feel bad and start apologizing excessively, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” The more sympathetic and the more she is there for you to support you and the more she says “how may I support you, what can I do for you, how can I help you?”, The more the man will feel more secure in that it’s not the end of the world.

Working as a team with your significant other is very important with erectile dysfunction because you don’t know what’s necessarily going on. Erectile dysfunction could have come from diabetes, or it can come from your bad day at work, or because you’re obsessing about your day.

One of the biggest things about sexual intercourse and intimacy is that we have to be there at the moment. If we’re not there feeling the sexual stimulation and our mind is somewhere else, the other parts of our body aren’t going to react because as a good healthcare provider would say that our mind is our biggest sexual organ. That’s where everything comes from, that’s where our desire and our urges arise. That’s where depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric illnesses will hinder a person’s ability.

A lot of people go right to the doctor and get put right on the spot. I don’t think that’s necessarily always the best move because we need to rule out – have we taken their blood sugars into account?

Because those blood sugars may be the answer, you get someone in their diabetes is controlled, you might find that a lot of the symptoms they have started reducing and disappear altogether.

When we bring it back to oral medication like Viagra, we have to mention the dangers and risk factors that are associated with it. The side effects are hazardous and can play havoc with testosterone and the rest of your body. It is better to choose an alternative, herbal erectile dysfunction treatment that is much safer and natural rather than synthetic like prescription Viagra.

We recommend using one of the following four treatment option rather than taking Viagra for sexual function. Opt for VigRX Plus, Male Extra, ExtenZe, or ProSolution Plus Pills. There are many others available, but we have found that these four consistently proved to be far superior to the competition.

In the story when John was upset, the first sign he didn’t do anything about, he didn’t check his blood sugar but what’s important is that he should have said “I think there’s something wrong, I apologize, wait… I’ve got to go and check my blood sugar… Let me go and see if that’s impacting me”.

Be In The Moment

A lot of people don’t do that at the moment, and everything is essential at the moment. Otherwise, both partners go off with feelings of guilt or sadness or being upset in one way or another. The more we reduce those negative feelings on the way out, the healthier the relationship is going to become.

Anything that isn’t said at the moment when a person feels it becomes a white elephant in the room. It’s there, it haunts the relationship, little things happen, and it sets people off! Even though it has nothing to do with what’s going on at the moment but something that’s keeping them down or agitated by little things. When in actuality it’s a bigger issue like erectile dysfunction.

The standard blood sugar levels for a person with diabetes would be between 80 – 120 to 140. These are reasonable ranges, but some doctors push it all the way down to 70 and want you to be between 70 and 120. I always encourage my clients not to stay so close to that line because they may go into a hypoglycemic reaction If there’s that much difference in the long-term from being at 120 or 140 consistently.

It’s when you start getting up into those higher levels of 200 to 300 that you’re going to see the long-term effects and you’re going to see these complications occurring.

It’s imperative that when you’re working with a person with diabetes that you make sure one of the things they do is check their blood sugar often. If they know that their blood sugar is high then they can say “oh wait for a second, let me stop this before we go any further, how about we just cuddle for a while instead of going right into foreplay.”

That will allow some adjustment time and time for the couple to also get into intimacy. A lot of times people jump in too quickly, and they don’t get the intimate moment. Men have been taught that it’s one of the most primary, important things and that our sexual prowess!

The problem with that mindset is that rising to the occasion can be simply a physical issue when you have no control over that, so some people have real physical issues going on. They can’t control that! They have no responsibility for that. If their blood sugars are high, diabetes can cause such a heart disease that patients need to give themselves a break!

A couple of high blood sugars aren’t going to make a difference overall, a couple of low blood sugars, a pair of reactions aren’t going to change the world. It’s when they’re disregarding their diabetes, and their blood sugars remain high where the problem lies.