ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual activities. In India, more than 10 million cases per year originate due to erectile dysfunction. It can cause stress, relationship strain and low self-confidence.
It can originate by poor long-term blood sugar control. Erectile dysfunction can also be linked to other conditions common in men with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
It is estimated that:
- Men who have diabetes aretwo to three timesmore likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Abouthalf of the menwho are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes will develop ED within 10 years of their diagnosis.
- Adopting a healthier lifestyle may help reduce your risk.
DIAGNOSIS OF ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
There are no formal tests to diagnose erectile dysfunction. Laboratory tests can help identify the causes of ED. Initial tests should include HbA1C, free testosterone, thyroid function tests and prolactin levels. However, patients who do not respond to pharmacological therapy or who may be candidates for surgical treatment may require more in-depth testing, including nocturnal penile tumescence testing, duplex Doppler imaging, somatosensory evoked potentials, or pudendal artery angiography.
Diabetes is associated with many serious health complications. Erectile dysfunction is one of those complications, which originates mainly due to diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition when high blood sugar levels causes nerve damage in various parts of the body such as hands, arms, legs and feet which results in pain, tingling or numbness.
- Damage to penile nerves: Diabetes can cause damage to nerves (neuropathy) throughout the body including the nerves to the penis. Damage to penile nerves can interfere with the body’s ability to send messages to and from the penis, which can lead to ED.
- Narrowing or hardening of blood vessels: Diabetes can intensify a condition known as atherosclerosis, in which the blood vessels become narrow or harden. Narrowing or hardening of these blood vessels prevents blood flow into and out of the penis, which can cause ED.
- Nitric oxide production: Men with diabetes need to control their blood sugar levels. The body is unable to produce required Nitric Oxide (NO) in the presence of high blood sugar levels and vascular tissues don’t respond as effectively to NO. When enough blood flows into the penis, penile veins close off and block the blood from flowing out. This process results in an erection. If the body becomes unable to produce required NO or if the penile tissues do not respond to NO, the pressure of the blood flowing into the penis is not sufficient to trap the blood and penis will not get hard, resulting in ED.
- Testosterone deficiency: About 12% of men with diabetes have low levels of the male hormone testosterone, which is required for normal erectile function.
Diabetes is a lifetime chronic health condition, though both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be well controlled through medications, proper diet, and exercise. Although ED can become a permanent condition, this typically isn’t the case for men who experience occasional erectile difficulties.
- Lifestyle change
If a person has diabetes, he may still be able to overcome ED through a lifestyle change that includes sufficient sleep, no smoking and stress reduction. There are several lifestyle changes that a person can make to not only help with diabetes management, but also to lower the risk of ED. You can:
- Blood sugar control through diet: Eating a diabetes-friendly diet will help to better control the blood sugar levels and lessen the amount of damage to the blood vessels and nerves. A proper diet geared at keeping the blood sugar levels in check can also improve the energy levels and mood, both of which can help reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. It is also considered working with a dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator to help adjust the eating style.
- Reducing alcohol consumption: Drinking more than two drinks per day can damage the blood vessels and contribute towards ED. Being mildly intoxicated can also make it hard to achieve an erection and interfere with sexual function.
- Stop smoking: Smoking narrows the blood vessels and decreases the levels of nitric oxide in the blood. This decreases blood flow to the penis, worsening erectile dysfunction.
- Regular exercise:
- Adding regular exercise to the routine not only helps to control the blood sugar levels, but it can also improve circulation, lower stress levels and improve the energy levels. All of these can help combat ED.
- Get more sleep: Fatigue is often to blame for sexual dysfunction. Ensuring that you get enough sleep each night can lower the risk of ED.
- Stress levels:Stress can interfere with sexual arousal and the ability to get an erection. Exercise, meditation and setting aside time to do the things that you enjoy can help to keep the stress levels down and lessen the risk of ED. If symptoms of anxiety or depression are starting to develop, consult the doctor.
- Oral medications:Erectile dysfunction medications include sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn) or Avanafil (Stendra). These pills can help ease the blood flow towards the penis, making it easier to get and keep an erection.
In some cases, these drugs may be unsuitable for patients with heart disease. If you are considering one of these drugs and you have heart disease, as many diabetics do, be sure to tell your doctor. In rare cases, the pills may create “priapism,” a prolonged and painful erection lasting six hours or more (although reversible with prompt medical attention).
Herbal supplementation: It has been observed that herbal supplements are proved to be safe and effective to treat erectile dysfunction. Chemforce is a strong dietary supplement for overall energy and vitality in men. Furosap®, the major ingredient in Chemforce has been clinically proven to manage testosterone deficiency in men and is supported by international patents. The active component i.e. protodioscin is known to increase the levels of the hormones such as testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone. These improvements in the hormonal levels in men might be responsible to manage erectile dysfunction.