It’s not easy to become or stay healthy, and there are many factors to help a man live a balanced and safe lifestyle. However, there’s one significant issue that might complicate your sexual health, and that’s diabetes.
Diabetes impacts about nine percent of the US population, or 30 million people. It’s important to know what it is and how it might affect a man’s sex life. Then, you will learn about the risk factors of erectile dysfunction and how low testosterone can change your body. Let’s get started!
Diabetes is a disease that changes how the body produces insulin. In some people, that means the body can’t make enough, but others simply can’t create it. Generally, diabetics have to monitor their blood sugar levels to ensure that they don’t get dangerously low or high.
Those with diabetes often have many health complications. For example, your risk of heart disease goes up, as do problems with the kidneys, eyes, and skin. The impact to a man’s sexual health is also a concern. About 15 percent of all adult men in the United States have diabetes, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes
Diabetes might be a contributing factor to erectile dysfunction. Having ED means you cannot get or maintain an erection easily. While many factors go into the condition, including circulatory problems and high blood pressure, men with diabetes often experience ED at higher rates than those who don’t have it.
There have been recent studies conducted on men with diabetes, finding that over half of them also have ED.
Because the blood flow to the penis is halted or slowed, it can greatly restrict a man’s sex life.
Low Testosterone and Diabetes
Men often experience low testosterone without getting a diagnosis. Most men who suffer from Low-T have symptoms that match other conditions, but it’s so important to focus on your sexual health and needs.
According to the ADA (American Diabetes Association), those with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone than those without diabetes. Symptoms can include:
- Lack of energy
- ED (reduced blood flow to the penis)
- A drop in sexual interest
Medical professionals can diagnose and treat Low-T in men. This can help people with diabetes deal with their low libido and enjoy sexual intercourse once again.
The Autonomic Nervous System and Diabetes
Generally, men with diabetes have problems with ANS (the Autonomic Nervous System). Such issues will often develop into sexual health problems. Your ANS is there to open and shrink the blood vessels to promote blood flow.
Diabetes often injures the blood vessels and nerves, especially in the penis. This restricts blood flow and presents problems for men when they try to achieve erections. ED can be a symptom of such injuries.
Diabetes, Bladder Problems, and Sexual Health Issues
Bladder and sexual problems are common as you age, but diabetes often makes things worse. You and your partner may not enjoy sex anymore. On top of a non-healthy sex life, you may also have issues emptying the bladder or leak urine during the night and day.
Blood Vessels and Blood Sugar Levels
The blood vessels and nerves in your body could get damaged by high blood sugar levels. That can cause sexual and bladder issues later. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep the blood sugar levels in the target range to prevent problems as you age.
It’s wise to work with a healthcare team to prevent and treat these types of issues. They could be signs that you should be managing diabetes differently. Remember, a healthy bladder and sex life will improve your overall quality of life, so it’s wise to take action now.
Could Bladder Problems and Sexual Issues Be Diabetes Symptoms?
Yes! Changes in bladder habits or sexual function could be a sign of diabetes. Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) can damage various parts of the body, such as the urinary tract or genitals. Men with diabetes often develop erectile dysfunction roughly 10 to 15 years sooner than those without diabetes.
When to See a Doctor about Sexual and Bladder Problems
It’s wise to talk to a healthcare professional for sexual health and bladder issues. These problems might be a sign that you should manage diabetes differently. It’s often embarrassing and hard to discuss your sexual dysfunction, but doctors are trained to deal with them. Everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship and enjoy their activities.
What Makes a Person More Likely to Develop These Sexual or Bladder Problems?
You are more likely to develop bladder and sexual problems if you have diabetes on top of:
- High blood sugar that’s not well controlled
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- High blood pressure that’s not treated
- High cholesterol that’s not treated
- Obesity or being overweight
- Not being physically active
- Taking certain medications
- Drinking way too many alcoholic drinks
Research suggests that some genes could make people with diabetes more likely to develop diabetic neuropathy.
What Are the Sexual Problems Found in Men with Diabetes?
Changes in the nerves, blood vessels, hormones, and emotional health with diabetes might make it challenging to have good sex. Such high blood sugar levels all the time might also lead to issues with having a child.
You’ve got erectile dysfunction if you cannot keep or get an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Over half the men with diabetes will end up with ED. Plus, they’re three times more likely to develop it than those without the condition.
Overall, good diabetes management is the best way to prevent and treat ED that’s caused by circulation problems and nerve damage. Medication and lifestyle changes might also assist here!
In rare situations, diabetes might lead to retrograde ejaculation, which is when all or part of the semen goes to the bladder instead of the penis during ejaculation.
With retrograde ejaculation, semen goes into the bladder, mixes with your urine, and is urinated out of the body. Your doctor will often request a urine sample after ejaculation to determine if you have the condition. Likewise, some men never ejaculate.
People with diabetes are often more likely to develop Peyronie’s disease (penile curvature) than those without it. If you have Peyronie’s disease, you also have scar tissue (plaque) in your penis, causing it to curve whenever it’s erect. Curves in your penis might make it difficult to have sex or even cause pain. Some will also develop erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone levels in men naturally go down with age. However, if yours are lower than normal, it might lead to erectile dysfunction or could explain why you feel depressed and tired with a low sex drive.
Men with diabetes, especially if they’re overweight and older, are more likely to experience low testosterone (Low-T).
If your doctor thinks you have low testosterone, they will ask for a blood sample and give you a physical examination. They may even suggest treating your symptoms with a patch, injection, or prescription gel.
Studies indicate that testosterone therapy and good diabetes management could reduce sexual problems in men. However, the treatment might have severe risks or be unsafe for certain men.
Studies suggest that those with diabetes could have sperm issues that make it harder to conceive a child. The sperm might be slow or might be unable to fertilize the woman’s egg. It’s crucial to work closely with your healthcare provider and partner to deal with these situations.
If you wish to have a child, ask your doctor to test for retrograde ejaculation and treat it with medications or various changes to your diabetic care plan. A urologist and a fertility expert can also assist with your sexual health needs. In some cases, artificial insemination (taking sperm from urine) is possible.
What Are the Sexual Problems Women with Diabetes Might Have?
Hormonal changes, reduced blood flow to the vagina, and nerve damage can all cause painful sex, vaginal dryness, and low sexual desire or response. Other conditions might lead to those problems, such as menopause.
If you’ve noticed a significant change in your sex life, it’s wise to speak to a doctor. They should do a pelvic exam and even test your urine and blood for blood vessel damage and other concerns.
Low Response and Sexual Desire
A low sexual response and low sexual desire can include:
- Having no or little feeling in the genitals
- Not having sufficient vaginal lubrication
- Being unable to orgasm or rarely having them
- Being unable to stay or become aroused
When a woman has diabetes, the body and mind go through multiple changes. For example, low or high blood glucose levels might affect how or if you can get aroused. Likewise, you might find that you’re more tired, anxious, or depressed than usual, so you’re less interested in sex.
A healthcare team will help you change your diabetic care plan to stay on track. Often, those who keep their blood glucose levels in the target range have fewer issues with nerve damage, which leads to low response and sexual desire.
Sometimes, women with diabetes say they have painful sex, or it’s uncomfortable. The nerves telling the vagina to get lubricated during sexual stimulation might get damaged because of the diabetes. In some cases, over-the-counter and prescription lubrication can help with vaginal dryness.
Likewise, it’s best to manage blood glucose over many weeks and months to prevent the nerve damage and ensure you have a good sex life for many years to come.
Bladder and Yeast Infections
Women with diabetes are generally more likely to have yeast infections because the yeast grows more easily with higher blood glucose levels. They’re often uncomfortable and painful and might prevent you from having sex and enjoying various activities.
Though you can treat yeast infections at home, it’s best to speak to a doctor about your symptoms. For example, some symptoms are similar to sexually transmitted diseases. Always make sure to take care of your sexual health.
Fertility Problems and Pregnancy Concerns
When people with diabetes plan to get pregnant, they must get their blood glucose levels close to the target range beforehand. High blood glucose could harm the baby in the first weeks of pregnancy, even before you realize you’re pregnant.
If you’re already pregnant and have diabetes, it’s best to see a doctor to manage your diabetes. Work with a healthcare team and follow the management plan to have a healthy baby and pregnancy.
Generally, health problems, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and obesity, are linked to diabetes and make it harder to have a child. While this won’t necessarily harm your sex life, it can cause depression if you find you’re unable to get pregnant.
The Bladder Problems Men with Diabetes and Women with Diabetes Might Have
Diabetes often causes nerve damage to the urinary tract, which leads to bladder issues. Obesity also increases bladder problems, including UI (urinary incontinence). Therefore, managing diabetes is a crucial part of preventing problems that might lead to excessive urination.
Talk to your doctor to help you manage your glucose levels and lose weight if necessary. Physicians use urine and blood tests to diagnose conditions like bladder problems. They can also utilize urodynamic testing to determine which issue you have.
Frequent or Urgent Urination
People with diabetes who have high blood glucose levels might have to urinate often, which is called urinary frequency.
Men and women with diabetes can manage their glucose levels and keep them within the target range, and they still feel a sudden urge to go. This is called urgency incontinence and often happens at night. Medications can reduce those symptoms.
Sometimes, those with diabetes can’t feel when they have a full bladder. Most people report trouble “going.” With time, having a full bladder causes damage to the bladder muscles that push the urine out.
When those muscles don’t work properly, urine stays in the bladder for longer periods (urinary retention.) This leads to bladder infections, feelings of always having to go, and urine leaks.
Many times, people with diabetes have other UI issues, such as stress incontinence. Obesity, nerve damage, and bladder infections are all linked to diabetes and are related to bladder control concerns. Leaking urine might cause you to avoid certain activities, such as sex.
If you’re overweight, weight loss can help you reduce the number of leaks you have. Studies indicate that people are more likely to leak when they have a higher body mass index, or it increases. Therefore, it’s best to talk to a doctor to determine how to lose the weight.
Your healthcare team will help you prevent or manage urine leaks. Bladder control issues are very common and treatable, whether you have diabetes or not. You don’t have to deal with rushing to the restroom all the time.
If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have urinary tract infections, which are often called cystitis or bladder infections. It’s crucial to see a doctor immediately if you experience urgent and frequent urination that’s painful.
Generally, bladder problems could develop into a kidney infection and make your other symptoms worse, such as urine retention and leaks. Likewise, bladder infections might stop you from living your life or being intimate. In some cases, good blood sugar levels can prevent these issues.
How to Prevent or Treat Sexual and Bladder Problems
When you manage your diabetes, you can work to prevent diabetes problems that might lead to issues with sexual function. It’s wise to work with a healthcare team to treat your concerns. They can:
- Keep blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels close to target ranges
- Help you choose appropriate physical activity options
- Quit smoking
- Keep a healthy weight
- Deal with emotional issues and psychological problems
Overall, sex is a physical activity, so you should always check your glucose levels before and after, especially if you’re taking insulin. Both low and high levels could lead to problems during sex.
Counseling is often helpful for those who have changes in their sexual desire or functionality. These are very common, but you can develop anxiety or depression if you don’t adjust to them.
Don’t forget to talk to your partner and have them be part of your support team. It’s often hard to discuss sexual issues, but sharing with them might help them understand that you’re having a health problem. Bring them with you to the doctor’s office or have couples counseling.
If you still feel upset or uneasy, it might be wise to discuss your situation with family members and close friends. They can offer support through this trying time. Don’t suffer with low libido or bladder issues alone; there are many treatment options available that might help!
Find Help Today
Diabetes presents many health risks for men and women to deal with. If you’re having trouble with your sexual health, it’s wise to consult with a doctor. Keep or start checking your blood sugar regularly and get a tailored approach to treat your health concerns so that you lead a healthier and fuller life.