What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which your body can’t produce enough insulin, can’t use insulin, or a mix of both. In diabetes, sugar levels in the blood go up. This can cause complications if left uncontrolled.

The potential health consequences are often serious. Diabetes raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and can cause problems with your eyes, kidneys, and skin, among other things. Diabetes can also lead to erectile dysfunction (ED) and other urological problems in men.

However, many of these complications are preventable or treatable with awareness and attention to your health.

Early symptoms of diabetes are often undetected because they may not seem that serious. Some of the mildest early diabetes symptoms include:

If you allow diabetes to go untreated, complications can occur. These complications can include issues with your:

Watch out for bacterial infections in your eyelids (styes), hair follicles (folliculitis), or fingernails or toenails. Additionally, make note of any stabbing or shooting pains in your hands and feet. All of these are signals that you may be experiencing complications from diabetes.

Diabetes can also cause symptoms in men that are related to sexual health.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection.

It can be a symptom of many health issues, including high blood pressure, kidney disease, and circulatory or nervous system conditions. ED can also be caused by stress, smoking, or medication. Learn more about the causes of ED.

Men with diabetes are at risk for ED. According to a recent meta-analysis of 145 studies, over 50 percent of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction.

If you experience ED, consider diabetes as a possible cause.

Damage to the autonomic nervous system (ANS)

Diabetes can harm the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and lead to sexual problems.

The ANS controls the widening or constricting of your blood vessels. If the blood vessels and nerves in the penis are injured by diabetes, ED can result.

Blood vessels can be damaged by diabetes that can slow blood flow into the penis. This is another common cause of ED among men with diabetes.

Retrograde ejaculation

Men with diabetes can also face retrograde ejaculation. This results in some semen being released into the bladder. Symptoms may include noticeably less semen released during ejaculation.

Urologic issues

Urologic issues can occur in men with diabetes due to diabetic nerve damage. These include an overactive bladder, inability to control urination, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Seeking help

Talking frankly with your doctor about ED and other sexual or urologic complications is essential. Simple blood tests can help diagnose diabetes. Investigating the cause of your ED can also help you discover other undiagnosed problems.

Many factors can increase your risk for diabetes and its complications, including:

Quitting or reducing smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight are all highly effective ways to prevent the onset of diabetes. Discover more ways to prevent diabetes.

Treating diabetes symptoms in men | Treatment

Keeping your blood glucose level under control can help prevent urological and other diabetes-related problems. If you do develop diabetes-related problems, medications are available to help treat them.


ED medications, such as tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and sildenafil (Viagra) may help you manage your condition. Medications mixed with prostaglandins, which are hormone-like compounds, can also be injected into your penis to help treat your ED.

Your doctor may also refer you to a urologist or endocrinologist to treat the effects of low testosterone. Low testosterone is a common result of diabetes in men.

Low testosterone can cause you to lose interest in sex, experience decreases in body mass, and feel depressed. Talking to your doctor about these symptoms can allow you to get treatments such as testosterone injections or patches and gels that treat low testosterone.

Discuss all medications and supplements with your doctor to avoid any potentially harmful drug interactions. Share any changes in your sleeping pattern or other lifestyle habits with your doctor as well. Treating your mind can help the problems affecting the rest of your body.

Lifestyle changes

Certain lifestyle choices can greatly impact your physical and mental well-being if you have diabetes.

Balancing your meals can improve your bodily health and delay the onset of diabetes symptoms. Try to get an even mixture of:

You should avoid excess sugar, especially in carbonated drinks such as soda and in candies.

Keep a regular exercise schedule and manage your blood sugar within your exercise regimen. This can allow you to get the full benefits of a workout without feeling shaky, tired, dizzy, or anxious.

Being proactive is vital. Get a blood test if you can’t remember the last time you had your blood glucose checked, especially if you’re experiencing ED or other well-known diabetes complications.

Diabetes and complications such as heart disease can lead to emotional problems, including anxiety or depression. These can worsen your ED and other aspects of your health. Talk to your doctor if you start to experience feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, or worry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are slightly more likely than women to develop diabetes. Diabetes is a growing problem in the United States for many, 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. You can still live well with diabetes. With healthy lifestyle behaviors and proper medications, you might be able to prevent or manage complications.