Erectile dysfunction (ED) (also called impotence) is what happens when a male does not have or maintain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. Can diabetes play a part in ED? Sure, it can as well as heart disease (one of the complications of diabetes). As a matter of fact, diabetes is one of the most common causes of ED. High blood sugar (or hyperglycemia, a characteristic of diabetes) can damage blood vessels, nerves and the hormones that controls erection, preventing blood flow.
Complications and Risk Factors
ED is a very common experience. About 30 million people in the U.S. has suffered sexual complications. You can have erectile dysfunction at any age and your chances increase as you get older. If you have ED early in your youth (under the age of 45), there is a good chance that diabetes could be the cause of it. It is estimated that about half of people with diabetes also have ED. Other risk factors that offer further complication of are:
- If you are overweight or obese
- If you have high blood pressure
- If you are not physically active
- If you smoke
- If you are stressed
- If you are depressed
- If you have anxiety
- If you have high blood pressure (hypertension)
- If you drink excessive amounts of alcohol
- If you take prescribed medication for depression, pain or high blood pressure
- If you take medication with ED listed as a side effect
- If your blood lipid profile is abnormal
- If you have high cholesterol
- If you have low testosterone
- If you have nervous system problems
- If you have damage to the brain or the spinal cord
ED can be caused by physical or psychological issues and can be a mixture of both. It involves your muscles, emotions, your brain, your nerves and your blood vessels. If there is a problem concerning any of these things, then it is likely that it may affect functionality.
There are Many Ways to Fight Erectile Dysfunction
All the above being said, there are many ways that you can battle ED and promote an erection. Firstly, you should not be afraid to consult with a doctor about the problem. I know that a situation such as ED can be a very personal issue for someone, but you would be surprised to find ED to be an extremely common problem and your general practitioner may refer you to a specialist that deals with this problem all the time. If it helps, be sure to request your preference of a male or female doctor so that you are more comfortable communicating your situation.
You should go in for check – ups, evaluations and tests to find the underlying cause of your situation. It may be diabetes, but it can just as well be because of high blood pressure, obesity, low testosterone, a heart disease or neuropathy on the physical side of the equation. As far as the psychological aspects, ED may be due to stress, anxiety, depression, communication or other problems within the relationship. As well, it could be a mixture of both physical and mental factors.
Treatment, if you are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, may be as simple as being prescribed oral medication such as Viagra (sildenafil) or something similar to help stimulate blood flow. According to Healthline, you do not have to worry about these prescriptions having a negative impact on diabetic medications such as Metformin (Glucophage) or insulin.
Another direct solution that may be recommended is a penis vacuum pump. This is a tube that fits over the penis. Then, the device has attached to it a handheld pump, or you can choose a battery operated one to get blood flow to erect the penis.
If either of these two options are not for you, then you may opt to have a penile implant surgery. The Mayo Clinic ensures that this is a safe and effective option for many men with ED.
You Have to Make Lifestyle Changes
Secondly, prescribed pills, vacuum pumps or surgery may get the blood flowing to cause an erection, but it doesn’t fix the underlying cause of your ED. You have to have a healthier control over everything from what you allow inside your body to how much physical activity your body gets. You are going to have to make some lifestyle changes in order to live a healthier life and promote better erections.
This, means eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, managing stress levels, reducing anxiety and depression, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol only in moderation. If you want to improve your erections, then you are going to have to take control of the wheel and steer your body in a healthier direction.
It is possible that getting your lifestyle under control may eliminate the need for pills, pumps and surgery. If not, making a change towards a healthier lifestyle will only enhance the outcome of these things.
As far as diet goes, the first thing to note is that you would do well with the diabetic diet that you should have in place to keep your weight, cholesterol, carbohydrates, and blood sugars under control. The foods that you should eat are not homed down to an exact science. It is different depending on your current weight size, how active that you are in your life and other factors.
Nevertheless, you should eat foods that gives you nutrients and energy. There should be a healthy mix of whole grains, fruits, dairy products, dark leafy veggies, fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats. You should limit foods that are high in calories, unhealthy fats and sugar. You can get a good idea of what you should be eating by reading food labels, using tools such as the glycemic index (GI) and being aware of the nutritional content of what you put into your body.
In addition to the diabetic diet, watermelon is one fruit in particular that has shown to have benefits for improving erections. According to Healthline, watermelon contains an amino acid called citrulline that helps improve blood flow. Watermelon is also a low-calorie food and is 90% water, so it will help with hydration levels as well.
Other foods that are good for erections include:
- Pomegranate – You can increase the amount of nitric oxide in your body from the nutrients in pomegranate. Nitric oxide improves the pressure of your blood including in your private area
- Oysters – contains zinc to help boost your testosterone levels and other sex hormones
- Grape juice – You can increase the amount of nitric oxide in your body from the nutrients in Concord grape juice
- Walnuts – Walnuts have lots of arginine, an amino acid your body uses to make nitric oxide.
- Coffee – Caffeinated beverages are a well-known way to boost your energy and improve cognitive function, but did you know that drinking them can also help with erectile dysfunction? A study found men who consumed two or three cups’ worth of caffeine per day were less likely than others towards ED. This is because caffeine helps increase blood flow in the body which promotes healthy sex life!
- Garlic – The strong-smelling bulb may keep you safe between the sheets. If plaque forms on your walls of arteries, blood flow could be cut off or reduced which would cause problems with romance later in life if left untreated for too long! Garlic contains allicin–a compound that helps prevent this issue by clearing out existing clutter from inside targeted cells, so they don’t have enough space to grow into an unhealthy lifestyle condition
- Salmon – Salmon is one of the most heart healthy options on this list! It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and may increase nitric oxide levels
- Dark Chocolate – Chocolate is the perfect food to help you stay healthy and happy! It’s rich in flavanols, plant nutrients that can increase blood flow. The nitric oxide your body makes from chocolate may also be beneficial for erections or any other medical problems you’re experiencing- it’s even used as an ingredient in some ED medications
- Oatmeal – The oatmeal plant is one of many plants that can be used to make a delicious, nutritious breakfast. L-Arginine a nonessential amino acid found in this food increases blood flow by relaxing smooth muscle lining arteries and veins
- Olive Oil – There are many benefits to using olive oil, one of which is that it may help your body produce more testosterone.
- Peppers – Peppers are not just for eating! The stuff in cayenne, jalapenos and habaneros that give them their heat relaxes the arteries – which helps blood flow to your heart as well other organs including our favorite part: Your private part.
According to the National Library of Medicine, physical exercise is known to improve erectile function in men. It keeps the blood flowing through the body and is good for the circulatory system. It is recommended that you get 40 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 4 times a week. With just a few hours a week, suggested by emerging scientific evidence, you can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, says Harvard Health Publishing.
It is possible that the underlying cause of your ED may be only partly physical. The ED may be due in part or in whole to something more mental or emotional like stress, anxiety, depression, or problems within the relationship. In this case, counseling or therapy for you or as a couple may be exactly what you need to get your body back on course.
Are you under an unusual amount of stress and anxiety? Do you have any guilt issues? Do you get nervous while pleasing your partner? You should talk to a doctor to see if other physical possibilities can be ruled out. Then you can more efficiently deal with the psychological issues.
Sessions may help to discover the underlying source of the problem(s), ways to fix a problem and to keep them from coming back.
Erectile dysfunction is common in those living with type 2 diabetes. It is a complicated problem and can be difficult to deal with. It happens but it is not the end of the world. There are solutions. Like managing diabetes, you have to regulate the foods that you eat, get exercise to get the blood pumping, and there are medications and supplements that you can employ to help you reach your sexual peak again. There are also pumps and safe surgical procedures if other alternatives are preferred. With a little effort, you can once again be the man that you want to be.