Could Erectile Dysfunction Help Diagnose Diabetes in Men?

Published On: 11/17/2017

Erectile dysfunction – it’s a real problem that affects about 1 in 10 men at some point in their lives. But, did you know that erectile dysfunction (ED) is not just a sexual problem? Erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of a more complex medical condition such as diabetes. In fact, ED may be an early indicator of diabetes. Yet, many men are unaware they have the condition until they begin experiencing symptoms such as erectile dysfunction.

Siegelbaum“Diabetes causes a twofold attack on the ability to achieve an erection,” explained Marc  Siegelbaum, M.D., urologist and director of the Erectile Dysfunction Program at Chesapeake Urology (pictured right).  “Diabetes causes damage to both the penile and perineal nerves that carry the sensory impulses to the brain that are responsible for initiating a man’s sexual response. Diabetes also damages the small blood vessels that are responsible for the blood flow to the penis. When these blood vessels are damaged and blood flow is reduced or eliminated to the penis, a man won’t be able to achieve an erection.”

In addition to reduced blood flow to the penis, uncontrolled diabetes can result in nerve damage, or neuropathy. Damage to the nerves that control a man’s erection can be irreversible, which is why medical management of the condition is so important for preserving a man’s erectile function.

Sobering Statistics on Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

  • Between 20% and up to 75% of men with diabetes will experience at least some degree of erectile dysfunction during their lifetime.
  • Some studies show that ED may be an early indicator of diabetes, particularly in men 45 years of age or younger.
  • Men with diabetes may experience problems with erectile dysfunction 10 to 15 years earlier than men without diabetes.



Treating the Underlying Cause of Erectile Dysfunction is Critical

According to Dr. Siegelbaum, a man who has normal sexual desire and normal testosterone levels may still experience ED because of restricted blood flow to the penis due to an undiagnosed condition such as diabetes.  “Erectile dysfunction is not just another part of aging and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Men who experience ED should see a physician for a comprehensive medical exam to find the root cause of the erectile issue,” he urges.   

Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Controlling the progression of diabetes through diet and medication will certainly help improve blood flow through the body and help prevent future nerve damage. However, men who continue to have problems with erectile dysfunction should seek help from a urologist. A number of treatment options are available, from oral medications and injection therapy to penile implants in more severe cases.


Learn more about erectile dysfunction and treatment options – visit /.

To find a Chesapeake Urology physician, visit or call Chesapeake Urology at 866-953-3111.