Dear Diabetes: Is diabetes different for men than it is for women?
Guys, here’s the good news: You don’t have to deal with the effect of the menstrual or menopausal hormonal swings that can affect a woman’s blood sugar management.
But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) – meaning a consistent inability to get an erection sufficient for intercourse – than men without diabetes. What’s more, men with diabetes may get ED earlier, by as much as ten to fifteen years, than men without diabetes who develop ED.
The increased rate of ED among men with diabetes is most likely due to chronic high blood glucose levels, which can inhibit blood flow to the spongy tissues in the penis. For others, erectile dysfunction may be an early sign of diabetic neuropathy, especially in men under forty-five – so if you find yourself chronically unable to hold an erection, you may want to check with your doctor.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, being affected by any sort of penile issue can lower your libido. That’s one of the many reasons that it’s important to talk with your doctor if you think you may have ED. Your doctor will most likely perform a physical exam, order some lab work to check hormone levels and blood sugar levels, and may also instruct you to do an at-home test to check for erections during sleep. He or she may also tell you to eliminate the contributors to erectile dysfunction that are within your control, such as smoking or heavy alcohol consumption.
For more stories in the Dear Diabetes series, visit The DX archives.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience