Men, Sex, and Diabetes

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When it comes to sex and diabetes, it’s sometimes hard not toget discouraged. Estimates of the number of diabetic men whoexperience sexual dysfunction range from 20 percent to a stunning 80percent. And men with diabetes are three times more likely toexperience sexual problems than men without diabetes.

Neuropathy, ornerve damage, is the primary culprit, but other contributors arelack of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps dilate your bloodvessels, and damage to the blood vessel walls, which also reducesblood flow to the penis. On top of this, there are the medicationsthat are often prescribed to men with diabetes, which can have sideeffects that cause difficulties with sexual functioning.

Peter, Meet ED

Fortunately, discussion about sexual dysfunction’s come a longway. For something that was never mentioned in good company,it’s out of the closet in a big way. It’s even got itsown nickname these days: ED, for Erectile Dysfunction. The newopenness is due in large part to Viagra, which brought ED out intothe open and made it much less embarrassing to talk about with yourdoctor. Viagra, one of a group of drugs that also includes Cialisand Levitra, works by increasing blood flow to the penis andblocking the enzyme that allows blood to drain from the penis. As aresult, an erection occurs naturally and stays around for quiteawhile.

What’s Up, Doc?

Your doctor might tell you that Viagra is not for you because youhave physical conditions that won’t allow it, you’retaking medications that don’t mix well with it, or yourparticular condition won’t respond to it. Nevertheless,you’re well on your way to a solution just becauseyou’ve managed to bring up the topic of ED with your doctor.Now you can begin to discuss the plethora of other options that areavailable to restore your sex life. There’s a real can-doattitude out there when it comes to ED, and there’s no reasonwhy you won’t be able to find something that works for you.

You might want to try penile injection therapy, in which you injecta medication directly into the penis that causes blood vessels towiden, allowing blood to flow more freely and create an erection.The idea of an injection might be a bit threatening, but in factit’s really simple and works well for many men.

To use another method, known as intra-urethral pellet therapy, youplace a tiny medicated pellet inside the tip of the penis. As thepellet dissolves, it releases medication that increases blood flowand causes stiffness in about five to ten minutes.

Then there’s the vacuum pump. To use this, you place a plasticdevice over the penis, and a vacuum withdraws all the air fromaround it, causing blood to flow into the penis and making it riselike a balloon. Then you put a constriction ring around the base ofthe penis to hold the blood in place. It’s a bit bulky andawkward to use at first, but it’s cheap and easy, and itoften does the trick If these simpler treatments are unsuccessful,there are about 15 different models of penile prostheses availablefor surgical implant, and they’re far more sophisticated thanthey used to be. One, for instance, involves placement of twosilicon rods into the penis, which keep it in a state ofsemi-erection constantly. Your doctor or urologist can tell youabout the others and whether one might be right for you.

Talk It Over

Of course, it’s important to talk to your partner about whatyou’re going through if you’re concerned about erectiledysfunction. Sometimes just worrying about ED can cause ED, sotalking to your partner might be all it takes. If you think it mighthelp you, sex therapy is an option that can teach you and yourpartner about paths to satisfying sex that you may not haveconsidered.

The most important thing, however, is not to give up. Sex isextremely important to a healthy life. After having sex, hormonesare released in men that contribute to a feeling of love andattachment. You don’t want to let those feelings die. Go aheadand talk to your doctor about ED. It’s a very common problem,and it’s very often fixable. And remember to tell yourpartner what’s going on, because even if medical solutionsaren’t your cup of tea, there’s more than one way tohave sex—even if ED’s in bed with you.

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