Recognizing Diabetes Symptoms in Men

See how diabetes has unique effects on men.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot produce enough insulin, cannot use insulin, or a mix of both. When this happens, sugar levels in the blood can go up, and if left uncontrolled, this can cause complications. The potential health consequences are complex and often serious. Diabetes raises the risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also cause problems with your eyes, skin, kidneys, and nervous system. For men, erectile dysfunction (ED) and other urological problems are also associated with diabetes.

Fortunately, many of these complications are preventable or treatable. The key is awareness and taking charge of your health.

Diabetes and Sexual Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. It can be a symptom of many health issues. These include high blood pressure, stress, smoking, medication side effects, and kidney disease. It can also be caused by conditions related to the circulatory and nervous systems.

If you start to experience ED, consider the possibility of diabetes. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, men with diabetes are at risk for ED. Though estimates vary, the organization says 20 to 75 percent of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes may lead to sexual problems because it can harm the body’s autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls the widening or constricting of your blood vessels. If the blood vessels and nerves in the penis are injured by diabetes, the result can be ED. Another common reason for ED among men with diabetes is blood vessel disease, which can impair the flow of blood into the penis.

Another diabetes-related urological problem men face is a condition called retrograde ejaculation. The condition results in some semen being released into the bladder. Symptoms may include noticeably less semen released during ejaculation.

Sexual problems can be uncomfortable to talk about. A frank conversation with your doctor about ED and other complications is essential. Simple blood tests can help diagnose diabetes. Investigating the cause of your ED could lead you to discover other undiagnosed problems, too.

Prevention and Treatment

The best way to prevent urological and other diabetes-related problems is to keep you blood glucose levels under control. Treatments to help you manage your blood sugar levels include medications, exercise, and a proper diet. Erectile dysfunction medications, such as tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra) and sildenafil (Viagra) may help you manage your ED.

To avoid any potentially harmful drug interactions, discuss all medications and supplements with your doctor.

Sometimes, conditions such as diabetes or heart disease can lead to emotional problems like anxiety or depression. These can worsen your ED, as well as other aspects of your health. Speak with your doctor if you start to experience feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, or worry. Changes in your sleeping pattern or other lifestyle habits should also be shared with your doctor. By treating the mind, you may help the problems affecting the rest of your body.


Men are slightly more likely than women to develop diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes is a growing problem in the United States for many demographics, including children. The rise in obesity may shoulder much of the blame.

If you have elevated blood sugar and are at risk for type 2 diabetes, you might be able to prevent it. Even if you develop diabetes, you can still live well. With healthy lifestyle behaviors and proper medications, you might be able to prevent or manage complications of the diabetes.

Being proactive is vital. If you can’t remember the last time you had your blood glucose checked, get a blood test soon. This is especially important if you’re starting to experience ED or other well-known diabetes complications.

Read This Next

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What You Should Know About Caffeine and Erectile Dysfunction
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