Painful Erections or No Erections

Sexual Dysfunction and Diabetes

People who suffer from diabetes often suffer long-term consequences and complications from a high level of glucose in the blood stream. This is a result of a metabolic condition called diabetes. One of the significant medical conditions for men could be erectile dysfunction or sexual dysfunction for women.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction or (ED) is a common problem in men who have diabetes however, it is not inevitable thanks to recent advancements in treatment protocols. The medical profession has developed new strategies to prevent this condition as well as new treatment options for men who all ready have difficulties with sexual dysfunction.

Men with diabetes are three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than other men, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Actually, it is estimated that up to 85% of men who have diabetes will experience some degree of erectile dysfunction. And, the longer an individual has had diabetes and the more severe the condition, the more likely they are to have trouble with erections. (1)

Unfortunately, ED is a condition which most men are unwilling to discuss with their doctor. Their doctors should take an active role in seeking information about their sexual health if they are treating patients with diabetes in order to help them. When this ED is left untreated it results in frustration, discouragement and often depression. It can also cause distrust from their partner due to their lack of sexual activity.

Basically, erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an adequate erection for satisfying sexual activity. In some instances the penis does not become hard at all and in other instances it does not become hard enough to have sex. (2) Most of us are well aware of the available medications to treat men who have erectile dysfunction. Viagra and Cialis, the two most popular, is so well advertised that most individuals who live within earshot of a television or who have picked up a magazine will have some knowledge of these options.

However, if the man is a diabetic this condition may be cause by other problems. A person who has diabetes that is not controlled will have excess sugar in the blood stream which can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels that are responsible for erections. Therefor; while the brain may be ready, the information is not relayed to the sexual organ which in turn does not respond at all. The use Viagra and Cialis are not as successful in men who have erectile dysfunction as a result of diabetes.

This lack of response should not be misinterpreted as a lack of interest. In fact, the opposite is quite often true. The man is often very interested but because of nerve damage or vascular damage, the body is unable to respond.

Those who’s diabetes is not properly controlled can also have difficulty with the inhibition of the release of nitric oxide. If there is too little nitric oxide in the blood system it can hamper the flow to the penis which again makes it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection. Other underlying medical conditions can also affect the situation, such as cardiovascular disease or hardening of the arteries.

However, although men are more likely to be identified as having sexual problems with their diabetes, both men and women can develop problems because of the damage to nerves and small blood vessels. The reason for the sexual dysfunction is the same, the damage to the nerve endings and blood vessels because of the high levels of glucose in the blood system.

Although women with diabetes can also experience sexual problems research is very limited at this point. Some estimate that between 18 and 27% of women will experience some type of sexual dysfunction, such as decreased lubrication, painful intercourse, lack of sexual desire and decreased or absent response. (3)

Decreased or absent sexual response can include the inability to become or remain aroused. It can also mean that the woman has reduced or no sensation in the genital area with constant or occasional inability to reach orgasm.

Women who have difficulty with lubrication can purchase prescription or over-the-counter vaginal lubricants. There are also techniques used to treat decreased sexual responses which can include changes in position and a variety of stimulation during sexual relations. Some women also find that using Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles can improve sexual response. Currently, there are studies underway for drug treatment specifically designed for women who are suffering from sexual dysfunction as a result of diabetes.


(1) National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Sexual and Urologic Problems of Diabetes

(2) National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Erectile Dysfunction

(3) National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: Sexual and Urologic Problems of Diabetes



Pierre Schexneider

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *