Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: Two New Studies

Two recent studies offer information and hope to men who have diabetes and erectile dysfunction. The studies have indicated that healthy lifestyle changes as well as certain medicines can help men with diabetes improve their sexual function.


In one new study, published in the February 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, set out to learn how common erectile dysfunction is in American men and what the biggest risk factors are for the condition. By studying data from more than 2,100 men who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), they found that 18.4% of men aged 20 or older had erectile dysfunction. This rate translates to more than 18 million adult men in the United States being affected.

The researchers found that rates of erectile dysfunction were much higher in men with diabetes, however—more than 50% of men with diabetes in the study reported that they were “never able” or “sometimes able” to achieve and maintain an erection. Men with cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) or cardiovascular risk factors—such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and smoking—were also at increased risk for erectile dysfunction, as were men who were not very physically active. Increasing age was also strongly tied to risk for the condition—in fact, 70% of the people in the study who reported erectile dysfunction were 70 years of age or older.

While this news may sound discouraging at first, the study’s researchers were quick to point out that steps taken to control diabetes and reduce cardiovascular risk can also help men improve their sexual function. The researchers also stated that diet and lifestyle changes undertaken to manage diabetes and promote heart health can do double duty by lowering a man’s chances of developing erectile dysfunction in the first place.

Another study, published in Issue 1, 2007, of The Cochrane Library journal, reviewed eight previous studies about using drugs to treat erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes. In those studies, the drugs sildenafil (brand name Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis), all in a class known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, were compared to placebo treatment in over 1,700 men with erectile dysfunction, 80% of whom had Type 2 diabetes. Most of the studies lasted about 12 weeks.

The review found that the men who had received PDE-5 inhibitors showed significant improvements on multiple measures of quality of sexual life when compared with the men who received placebo pills. Men who received PDE-5 inhibitors were also more likely to experience mild side effects, such as headache and flushing. The researchers concluded that drugs in this class are “efficient and safe for this specific wide population.”

If you are affected by erectile dysfunction, make sure to discuss the issue with your health-care provider, who can work with you to find an appropriate method (or methods) of treatment. You may also want to check out our article on Sexual Wellness.

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
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  • wimpy

    i have erictile dysfunction from diabetes, and none of those medicines work.what am i supposed to do?

  • Erlic


  • russell lewis

    i have erectile dysfunction and would like a copy of the newsletter so that i know i am not alone

  • Muhammad Baqar

    i have dibecic and erictile disfunction problem, i am 50 year old, what can i do to inprove my sex life and better too.

  • delaware9

    I suffer from type 2 diabetes and ED and find very little helps.

  • mrberrie

    Okay I am 58 Years old and diabetic (20 Years) and I have ED (15 Yrs.) I started taking 1/4 of a 20 MG Lavetria. This is after trying Viagra and Cialis. Niether Viagra or Cialis worked as well for me as Lavetria. The reason I took 1/4 is because I have major heart blockage (4 arteries 100% blocked); dead man walking. After about 10 – 15 years I have now had to increase my dosage to 1/2 of a 20 MG Lavetria. With caution cause I don’t want to give myself a heart attack. My woman had to get a little more inivative (freaky, also leave the light on) but I’m still enjoying sex. I take the Lavetria about a 1 hour to 30 minutes before the foreplay and the love making. Usually on an empty stomack so it can absorb faster. It works with alcohol but not as well. By the way alcohol is not good for diabetics but if you must drink try Rum and diet coke/pepsi (or some other diet drink) this will result in no sugar. Have fun, reduce stress!

  • carl

    I had ED. It was probably the main symptom that allowed me to diagnose myself as diabetic. My doctor would have never figured it out.

    After years of working with moron so called doctors and their prescribed medications I finally got feed up and took control of my health.

    I now control my diabetes with a low carb diet and exercise. My blood sugar normalized and the ED went away.

  • Scott Hogge

    i have had type 1 diabetes for 39 years. none of the pills have worked. i have found a injection, and yes you inject it right where u think, WORKS
    my big problem is the price on all the ED drugs. medicare covers none. drug companys won’t help ????? i’m 52 now. unless i win the lottery guess i’m looking at no sex for life………
    oh yeah, the pump is covered and does work. but have you ever choked a chicken to death? it hurts and will damage you if you don’t follow the directions. doesnt work for me……

  • Joe

    I have had type II diabetes for 15 years. After being diagnosed I tried the pills only to find out that I could not take them due to the side effects. I discussed the problems I was having with my doctor and he suggested that I get one of the Vacuum Erection Pumps, I followed his advice and purchased a Rejoyn system. Then in 2008 I purchased a MVP-700 from Pos-T-Vac, My Medicare did pick up 80% of the cost which left me to pay about $95.00. I did compare this price to the pills and if you were to buy Viagra it would cost around 1500.00 a year, Cialis is about 1595.00 a year and Levitra is about 1188.00 a year. I can tell you that I have been using my pump for over 15 years and have had nothing but success. Just by having the pump the quality of my life has been great compared to what it could have been without the pump.

  • sunil

    what does this vacum erection pump do, how do you operate your erection thru this,and lastly address from where we can buy this.

  • Eric

    To answer the post by sunil about where to buy the erection pumps from I suggest Healthconnection,Inc. there website address is http://www.anactivelife.com

    They offer the real deal – Medical grade erection pumps at a very low price. I got mind within two days of my order.

    Good Luck

  • Byron N. Mock

    Has any Type 1 diabetic noticed an increase in blood sugar level when using an ED drug? Most drugs I take cause this effect but I can’t find information on this subject.

  • Sandra

    Do men with E.D. have sexual desire in-spite of it or are they similar to frigid woman? I don’t want him to feel that he has to perform without any desire in the 1st place. I would rather just forget about it. But if the desire is there, I would be willing to be more forward, Not for my pleasure but for his. I am at a loss. He has his diabetes under control for the last two years. But still no hint of interest sexually.

  • Jim

    It sounds as if Sandra is now indifferent to sex with her partner – If so, how long has she felt this way? – since her partner got ED symptoms or way before that?

    If a man who, in the past has had mutually enjoyable sex with his partner, now notices she seems to be indifferent, then talking to each other in an understanding but frank way could lead to a resolution – perhaps with professional help.

    Without a resolution, he may well sexually disengage from her altogether – perhaps by developing ED or by turning his attention elswhere

    Another question is – are there no circumstances under which he gets an erection ? – most men have visual triggers that cause arousal – or they sometimes wake up with an erection. If this happens, it means the physical plumbing still works, which is at least a start towards fixing the problem.


    thank u 4 sharing with us (ed victims)our problems. all drugs failed,no access to U.S.can u give me idea on how to get the pump? Kb nono.

  • Rich

    I have been a type1 diabetic for about 30 years. I have tried Viagra and cialis dailey with little success. I have tried all the so called suppliments but have had no help there. Am I doomed to never have intercourse again?