Erectile dysfunction and diabetes: Take control today

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem for men who have diabetes — but it's not inevitable. Consider prevention strategies, treatment options and more. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Erectile dysfunction — the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex — is common in men who have diabetes. It can stem from problems caused by poor long-term blood sugar control, which damages nerves and blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can also be linked to other conditions common in men with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

Having erectile dysfunction can be a real challenge and can leave you and your partner feeling frustrated and discouraged. Take steps to cope with erectile dysfunction — and get your sex life back on track.

Talk to an expert

Many men are reluctant to bring up erectile dysfunction with their doctor. But don't let embarrassment keep you from getting help. One small conversation can make a big difference. Here's what to do:

  • Tell your doctor what's going on. Your doctor will consider underlying causes of your erectile dysfunction, and can give you information about medication and other erectile dysfunction treatments. Find out your options.
  • Ask what you need to do to control diabetes. Careful blood sugar control can prevent nerve and blood vessel damage that can lead to erectile dysfunction. Ask your doctor if you're taking the right steps to manage your diabetes.
  • Ask about other health problems. It's common for men with diabetes to have other chronic conditions that can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Work with your doctor to make sure you're addressing these other health problems.
  • Check your medications. Ask your doctor if you're taking any medications that may be worsening your erectile problems, such as drugs used to treat depression or high blood pressure. Making a change to your medications may help.
  • Seek counseling. Anxiety and stress can worsen erectile dysfunction. A psychologist or other mental health provider can help you find ways to ease your stress level.
Jan. 13, 2012 See more In-depth