Erectile Dysfunction often overlooked in Type 2 Diabetes.




Diabetes Care

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
Professional Data: Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2


Diabetes can affect people of any age. It increases the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, retinopathy (a disease of the retina) and blindness, peripheral neuropathies (a disease of the nervous system), circulation problems that can lead to amputation, problems with the immune system, and skin ulcers and poor wound healing.

Ninety percent of individuals with diabetes have type 2. Most of these individuals are over 40 years old. One in five patients is over the age of 65, and 80 percent are overweight.1 Many patients have increased blood sugar seven to ten years before symptoms occur.

The long-term complications associated with diabetes are serious, often life threatening, and diagnosed in the late stages of the disease. These complications are due to continuous hyperglycemia from poor glucose control. Many of these chronic complications can be traced to changes in blood vessels that cause a decreased blood flow. These changes include coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease, retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy.

Initial symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, thirst, fatigue, and irritability. Dizziness, lethargy, irritability, loss of coordination, and perspiration are marked during episodes of low blood sugar (blood glucose <60mg/dl). High blood sugar (blood glucose >250mg/dl) among insulin-dependent diabetics can lead to ketoacidosis, characterized by increased thirst, nausea, vomiting, and an acetone or "fruity" odor to the breath.

A recent investigation looked into the prevalence of erectile dysfunction as a result of type 2 diabetes. Over 1,400 people were used in this study. Patients were asked to complete a survey regarding their ability to achieve and maintain an erection. The survey results showed that 34% had frequent erectile problems, 24% had occasional problems, and 42% had no problems. A correlation was found between erectile dysfunction and depressive symptoms. Surprisingly, over 60% of these patients reported that their doctors had never asked about sexual problems. The researchers concluded that erectile dysfunction is extremely common among men with type 2 diabetes.2


1. Tuomilehto J, Wolf E. Primary prevention of diabetes. Diabetes Care. Mar1987;10(2):238-48.
2. De Berardis G. Erectile Dysfunction and Quality of Life in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Diabetes Care. Feb 2002;25:284-291.