Erectile Dysfunction As A Complication Of Diabetes
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to make proper use of the sugar glucose because of problems with the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas, and its main function is to allow cells to absorb glucose. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system destroys the insulin producing beta cells. Type 2, the more common type, occurs when cells gradually become less sensitive to insulin and the pancreas decreases its output of the hormone. In both types, glucose is not entering the cells, so it stays in the blood stream. High levels of circulating glucose can, over time, cause damage to the body.
How Can Diabetes Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?
Men who have diabetes are more than twice as likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction (ED) as the general population. Moreover, they begin having these problems more than ten years before their healthy peers. The reasons for this are manifold. Most diabetics will, unless they are very good about controlling their glucose levels, eventually develop nerve damage. When this nerve damage occurs in the penis or other erogenous zones, it dulls sensation and can make it difficult to become aroused through manual stimulation. Since this is an important part of arousal, especially in older men, this alone may be enough to cause erectile problems. A chemical messenger called nitric oxide plays a critical role in having an erection. In fact, the purpose of most prescription medications for ED is to boost nitric oxide levels. When a man is aroused, the blood vessels release nitric oxide. Once this nitric oxide reaches the penis, it causes the smooth muscles there to relax, allowing blood to enter the hollow chambers inside the musculature. It is this influx of blood which causes an erection. In a diabetic, however, the blood vessels can be damaged over time by high levels of glucose in the blood. If this happens, they may not be able to release sufficient amounts of nitric oxide to cause an erection. In addition, most diabetics also have high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes further damage to blood vessels, thereby worsening the problem by making it yet harder for adequate amounts of nitric oxide to be released. Furthermore, most of the prescription medications used to treat high blood pressure can also cause ED. Along with high blood pressure, many diabetics also have high cholesterol levels in their blood. Cholesterol can build up and clog arteries, thereby further reducing the flow of blood into the penis.
How Can Diabetics Prevent Erectile Dysfunction?
Diabetes doesn't have to lead to ED. By controlling your blood sugar, you can prevent many of the complications of diabetes, including those of ED. Some people will require medication to treat their diabetes (type 1 diabetics are entirely dependent on synthetic insulin) but for most, diet and exercise will do the trick. For diabetics, it is very important to avoid spikes in blood sugar. Eating small, healthy meals at regular intervals during the day will keep blood sugar steady. Diabetics should avoid highly processed sugars and carbohydrates, and make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Exercise can alleviate many of the symptoms of diabetes, and prevent the progression of the disease. As a diabetic, you should aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise every day. Finally, monitor your blood sugar carefully and see your doctor for regular checkups. This way, you can catch problems early and address them before any permanent harm is done.
Exploring Other Means of Closeness
If you have ED, discuss possible treatment options with your doctor. Bear in mind that most prescription medications have side effects, some of them serious. There are also other ways to be close to your partner. Find hobbies that you're both interested in, spend time holding hands, giving each other massages, or exploring alternative ways of giving and receiving pleasure in the bedroom. http://diabetes.webmd.com/guide/diabetes-overview http://www.lifeclinic.com/focus/diabetes/sex.asp http://www.webmd.com/solutions/diabetes_and_your_sex_life