Monday, September 10, 2007

Diabetes and Men's Sexual Health

Sex is an important part of life and relationships. But diabetes can affect a man’s sex life. Some men with diabetes have impotence, also called erectile dysfunction or ED. ED is when a man can no longer have or keep an erection. Over time, blood vessels and nerves in the penis can become damaged. This can lead to ED. If you have ED, there is hope. There are ways to treat ED. ED is not a normal part of getting older, and it doesn’t happen to all men who have diabetes. ED can also be caused by other conditions, such as prostate or bladder surgery. Talk with your health care team about new therapies.

If you have ED or some other sexual problem, it’s normal to feel embarrassed or upset. You may blame yourself or your partner. Some men feel guilty and angry. Others feel like there’s no hope. These feelings can make it hard to talk openly with your partner or your doctor. But talking about ED means you’re a step closer to getting help.

In Search of Answers

Today, there are many ways to treat ED and more are on the way. If one thing doesn’t work, something else might.

Here are some options:

Taking pills to treat ED

Putting medicine called prostaglandins (prahs-ta-GLAND-ins) into your penis

Using a vacuum tube and pump that you put over your penis. The pump creates a vacuum in the tube. The vacuum draws blood into the penis. A band is placed around the base of the penis so you keep the erection after you take off the vacuum tube

Having surgery to put a device in the penis. Surgery can also fix blood vessels so more blood will flow to the penis

Certain medicines, such as some pills for high blood pressure or depression, may cause ED. Pills for stomach ulcers or heartburn also may cause it. Ask your doctor if ED is a side effect of any of your medicines. There may be other pills you can take. Remember, talk with your doctor or diabetes educator before trying any treatment for ED or before stopping any of your medicines.

It’s not easy to accept that you have ED. And it can be even harder to talk about it, especially with your partner. Even if your doctor doesn’t ask about ED, talk about it if you’re having problems. Talking about ED is the only way to learn about treatments and get help.

Family Ties

Diabetes doesn’t affect your ability to become a father. But you and your partner might have questions about starting a family. Talk with your health care team if you have questions or concerns.

Here are some tips:

Not every man with diabetes gets ED
ED is not the end of your sex life
You can get help. There are several treatment options
Talk with your partner and your doctor or diabetes educator to get help

Depression and Anxiety

Diabetes raises your risk for depression. Depression is a medical condition that’s more serious than just feeling a little sad. Depression can lead to ED, and ED can cause men to feel depressed. People with diabetes sometimes feel they have a lot to worry about. They worry about their health, their future, and all the other stresses in their life. For some men, having sexual problems once in a while makes them worry about developing ED all the time. Lots of worry, also called an anxiety disorder, can lead to ED. Talk with your health care team if you have these feelings. Medicine or counseling can help with both depression and anxiety disorder