How Can Type 2 Diabetes Specifically Impact Men’s Health?

As we close out Men’s Health Month, let's dig a little deeper into some of the historically more uncomfortable topics surrounding men with type 2. ...

As we close out Men’s Health Month, let's dig a little deeper into some of the historically more uncomfortable topics surrounding men with type 2. As discussed in our Men’s Health Month article, men have not been comfortable discussing issues about their health, particularly conditions like diabetes, depression or sexual dysfunction. This has resulted in shorter and less healthy lives for men in the United States compared to women. Men are shown to also be afraid of diagnosis and will avoid the doctor if there is a problem for fear of the results. Having a health concern or problem is not a sign of weakness. 

Men shouldn’t avoid talking to a doctor when experiencing issues surrounding emotional health, sexual health or health complications that may be linked to type 2 as many symptoms or conditions can be treated or even altogether avoided.  Even though sexual implications related to emotional health or diabetes can be embarrassing or frustrating for everyone involved, there are things we can be aware of and solutions to sexual health issues. 

How common is ED for men with type 2?

The CDC reports that, “With ED, a man can’t get or keep an erection firm enough for sex. ED is common in middle-aged and older men – as many as 30 million in the United States have it. Men with diabetes are three times more likely to have ED. Getting older doesn’t cause ED, but it does increase your chance of getting it.” While this isn’t a guarantee that someone with type 2 will automatically have this problem, it is something to be aware of. 

Erectile dysfunction can be linked to other conditions common in men with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Erectile dysfunction might occur earlier in men with diabetes than in men without the disease. Difficulty maintaining an erection might even precede the diabetes diagnosis. Damage from high blood sugar or high blood pressure to nerves and blood vessels needed to have an erection. 

Another fact to consider is that “Low testosterone is a common condition that often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to other conditions. If you have type 2 diabetes, you are twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone as a man without diabetes”, says the American Diabetes Association

The symptoms of low testosterone can include:

  • diminished interest in sex
  • erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • reduced lean body mass
  • depressed mood
  • lack of energy.

Some medicines for high blood pressure, depression, or allergies can also impact the likelihood of developing ED. Don’t discontinue medications without consulting your doctor. Someone with this concern should continue their medications as prescribed but talk to their doctor about concerns and work together to find the right dosage or possibly switch medications. 

How can a man with type 2 support or maintain their sexual health?

Emotional health plays a critical role in sexual health. The more you worry about a problem, the more anxiety and frustration that builds. The fact is, every person will struggle with an issue related to sexual health at some point of their lives. Additionally, if someone is struggling with feelings, stress, anxiety, or addiction this can also impact sexual health. Taking care of your emotional health is one of the best ways to support and maintain your sexual health.

Continuing to make healthy lifestyle choices is the key to making the greatest impact on your emotional, physical and sexual health. Ample hydration, consistent sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy diet are the keys to your health. By setting and following through on these daily goals to get enough quality sleep, staying hydrated, exercising 150 minutes a week and eating a well rounded diet that helps you maintain blood sugar levels and a healthy weight is the correct combination to eliminate health issues. 

Medications for ED including oral medications, injections, inserts or implants are all treatment options men should discuss with their doctors to find what is best for them. The Mayo Clinic says, “Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), tadalafil (Cialis) and avanafil (Stendra) are oral medications that reverse erectile dysfunction by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide, a natural chemical your body produces that relaxes muscles in the penis.” If you’re suffering from low testosterone, there are several treatment options available such as gels, patches or injections that increase the amount of testosterone in your body.

Connect with others - It’s important to talk about any concerns you may have. Sexual dysfunction can be a warning sign of other health problems. Just like complications of the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves are related to blood vessel damage, so is diabetes-related sexual dysfunction. Also, by sharing your concerns, your health care provider can help treat specific sexual problems. Find out how else you can improve your health by joining our Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together group. Share your stories, ask the important questions, and get the advice you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.