Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

If you’re a regular reader here at DiabetesSelfManagement.com, you probably know that if you have diabetes, it’s important to get screened regularly for cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood levels of cholesterol or triglycerides (known together as hyperlipidemia). But there’s another cardiovascular issue linked to diabetes that gets less attention, even though it appears to be very common: erectile dysfunction.

In a recent review of studies, researchers sought to find out exactly how common erectile dysfunction is in people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They included 145 different studies in their analysis, in which over 88,000 men — with an average age of 56 — participated. Overall, they found that 57.7% of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction, according to the screening protocol used in the original study (one of a few different questionnaires). This includes 37.5% of men with Type 1 diabetes and 66.3% of men with Type 2 diabetes. Once the researchers corrected for publication bias — the fact that studies are more likely to be published if they contain significant results — the researchers estimated that 52.5% of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction.

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But as noted in a Medscape article on the research review, the underlying studies found widely varying estimates of erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes — from about 35% to about 80%. The outcome depended heavily on which questionnaire was used to diagnose erectile dysfunction — in the 17 studies that used one called the Sexual Health Inventory for Men, 82.2% of participants were found to have the condition. The researchers also found that the risk of erectile dysfunction increases after age 60. Overall, they found that the condition is about 3.5 times as common in men with diabetes as in men without diabetes.

Based on these results, the researchers recommended that all men with diabetes undergo screening for erectile dysfunction. They also noted that having a single screening questionnaire and protocol for diagnosing erectile dysfunction would be helpful toward figuring out what, exactly, makes a man more likely to develop the condition.

Do you have any personal experience — either firsthand or with a sexual partner — with erectile dysfunction? If you’re a man with diabetes, have you ever been given a questionnaire to get screened for the condition? Do you agree with the researchers that this screening should be standard for all men with diabetes? Have you ever felt hesitant to bring up sexual concerns with your doctor? Leave a comment below!

Want to learn more about diabetes and erectile dysfunction? Read “When Viagra Doesn’t Work,” “Say Yes to Intimacy,” and “Erectile Dysfunction? Modest Weight Loss Can Help.”