It’s a double whammy – Type 2 diabetes linked to erectile dysfunction
03/22/2019 // Rhonda Johansson // Views

A study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics concludes that there is a distinct and unique connection between Type 2 diabetes and the risk for erectile dysfunction (ED). This is one the first few studies that have determined that diabetes, independent of other risk factors, can affect a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection.

More than 220,000 men were observed for this study, of which 6,000 had ED. Researchers then sought to determine what conditions or genetic traits might predispose a man to ED. They found that men who were genetically at high-risk for diabetes were more likely to develop ED in the future. This suggests that “having a genetic predisposition to Type 2 diabetes…also predisposes you to having [ED],” said Anna Murray, co-author of the study and associate professor of human genetics at the University of Exeter in the U.K.

Authors of the study say that while the two conditions may seem unrelated, Type 2 diabetes may cause nerve damage and impairments with certain blood vessels. Problems with either of these can affect erection.

What makes the findings of this study rather interesting is that the more well-known risk factors for ED (such as obesity and hypertension) are often taken alongside diabetes. That is, ED is said to be caused by a set of conditions that people have in addition to diabetes, and not because of the disease itself.  This new study can change this perception.

Still, Murray says that “we have no direct evidence that by curing Type 2 diabetes, you would cure erectile dysfunction.” Murray did note, however, that treatment for obesity and hypertension, like diet and exercise, can help manage Type 2 diabetes, in turn affecting erectile dysfunction.


“[There are] lots of reasons why you’d want to cure Type 2 diabetes,” she said. “But this is an added incentive.”

Erectile dysfunction is defined as having trouble getting or keeping an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. It is estimated that as many as 30 million men around the world suffer from this condition. ED may occur when the blood flow in the penis is limited or when the nerves are damaged. Erectile dysfunction is also an early indicator of more serious conditions such as heart disease.

No need for the blue pill

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is perhaps the most common treatment for ED. The drug – better known as the blue pill – increases blood flow to the penis, making it easier for a man to maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. However, the drug is associated with adverse effects including priapism, a condition where an erection lasts for more than four hours. If not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage a penis.

Thankfully, new research suggests that ED can be treated naturally. By far, the best and simplest way to address ED is to exercise. Losing weight can address hypertension and obesity -- the biggest contributing factors of ED. Further, exercise encourages better blood flow to all parts of the body, including the penis.

A healthy diet is also key. Proper nutrition positively impacts the body. Studies prove that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish can reduce symptoms of ED. Having a healthy diet can also help in maintaining healthy body weight.

Lastly, it is important that men get adequate and restful sleep. One review published in Brain Research found that there was a delicate relationship between the production of sex hormones such as testosterone and sleep patterns. People who did not sleep enough had an increased risk of a hormonal problem.

Read more articles on improving male health at

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