Erectile Dysfunction – How To Reduce Your Risk

by Ben Ong
Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Despite being two very different conditions, it seem that Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction often go hand in hand.

Many studies have reviewed the link between the two conditions, with research showing that men with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop ED.

This article will take a closer look at why erectile dysfunction is so closely interlinked with type 2 diabetes and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction was once a type 2 diabetes complication that received little attention. However, thanks to increasing research and a shift in opening up about sexual health, awareness of it has increased over the years.

ED is a very common health complication in men diagnosed with diabetes. In fact, studies suggest that 35-75% of men with diabetes will go on to develop ED. They will also tend to develop the condition some 10-15 years earlier than men without diabetes.

The link between diabetes and erectile dysfunction is related to circulation and the body’s nervous system. Closely monitoring blood sugar levels is an important part of diabetes management.

Poorly managed blood sugar can lead to a number of health complications, including ED. This is as constant fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves, which play a role in sexual stimulation.

Damage to these nerves can impact your sex drive and effect the blood flow to your penis, affecting your ability to have an erection.

Risk Factors

  • Poorly managed blood sugar
  • High stress levels
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Uncontrolled hypertension

How To Reduce Your Risk Of ED

By managing your diabetes and making certain lifestyle changes, you can limit your risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

1) Healthy Diet 

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Making health conscious choices when it comes to your diet could help to reduce your risk of ED. One of the risk factors is being overweight. By limiting your intake of fatty and sugary foods and replacing them with fruit, vegetables and protein, you can reduce your weight, reducing your risk of erectile dysfunction.

Diet plays an important role in diabetes management and a healthy diet can help to control blood sugar levels.

Studies have shown that men who changed their diet to one low in saturated fat and high in fiber and did moderate physical activity each week were able to improve ED without prescription drugs.

2) Exercise

Diet combined with exercise can help to keep your weight in check and as a result reduce your risk of diabetic complications. Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar level, helping to lower stress and increase blood flow.

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

 Stress can have a severe effect on your health, resulting in a rise in blood sugar levels and affecting your glucose control.

Exercising helps to increase insulin sensitivity and studies have supported the benefits of exercising to relieve stress, showing that it increases the production of endorphins, reducing levels of anxiety and depression.

3) Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption 

Two vices that often go hand in hand are smoking and drinking. However, research has shown that these two habits, especially when combined, can take a serious toll on your sexual health.

Smoking is associated with many health risks and has a very damaging effect on your blood vessels.

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Blood circulation and blood flow plays an important part in erectile function and smoking has been shown to cause damage to you blood vessels.

The same goes for alcohol. If you are diabetic, you should already be wary of your alcohol consumption. Alcohol tend to be high in both sugar and carbs and can further increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. One small but insightful study reviewed 50 alcohol dependent male inpatients. The results found that 72% of the subject experienced sexual dysfunction.


Certain medications such as Viagra and Cialis are commonly prescribed to men battling erectile dysfunction. However, these drugs have been shown to have certain side effects, including headaches, dizziness and vision changes, to name but a few. This can be especially problematic for men diagnosed with diabetes and result in dangerous interaction with other medications. Before taking any drugs for ED, discuss with your Doctor if it will interact with any other medication you are taking.

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

Herbal treatments for erectile dysfunction  are becoming increasingly popular in the western world.  One of the major benefits of using natural ingredients is the minimized risk of experiencing any side effects.

One popular natural remedy that has been reported is Tongkat. Tongkat Ali is popular in traditional medicine.  It has been primarily used to promote healthy libido and support hormone levels in males. Traditionally it has been used as an aphrodisiac and a remedy for age-related sexual disorders and symptoms of andropause. 

Type 2 Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction

This is due to the root containing compounds that have repeatedly shown to stimulate libido, promote semen quality and muscle growth.  Lab studies have shown that tongkat ali also boosts testosterone by blocking an enzyme called aromatase, this enzyme converts testosterone to estrogens .

Ginseng has also shown some promise in helping with ED. The active ingredient in ginseng are called ginsenosides, they have been shown to increase nitric oxide production.

Given that phosphodiesterase inhibitors (such as sildenafil), which are used to treat male erectile dysfunction, increases nitric oxide activity, ginsenosides have been assessed as a possible natural treatment for ED.

Final Thoughts…

Erectile dysfunction can take its toll on both your physical and mental health. Many men find it difficult to talk about and can result in feelings of inadequacy and depression.

Opening up to your partner is important and if you are struggling you should not be afraid to seek help.  Whether it be through talking to a friend or meeting with a counsellor. It is also especially important if you have diabetes, to discuss any sexual health problems with your Doctor.

By taking into consideration your lifestyle, diet and level of activity, you can reduce your risk of developing ED.