Erectile Dysfunction Causes and Treatment

Dr Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM, FRCPC, discusses how diabetes affects hormones in men and women.

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Dr Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM, FRCPC, discusses how diabetes affects hormones in men and women.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM, FRCPC, Endocrinologist

Duration: 3 minutes, 27 seconds

There are two gender-specific with regards to diabetes management. The first would be diabetes during pregnancy, which is a very important issue because good blood sugar control during pregnancy will help ensure a healthy outcome.

With men, the main gender issue in diabetes is a diabetic complication of erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction in diabetes is very important. Not just for its social implications and the troublesome nature that troubles patients, but in actual fact having erectile dysfunction or impotence as it’s commonly called, is a sign that that man has a very high risk of having a heart attack in the next five years.

It’s though that the cause of it is damage to the blood vessels in the penis, and that’s happening over the whole body, including in the heart, kidneys and elsewhere. So if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction, you should seek help from your health care provider, not just for the therapy that’s there to treat it, but also because it’s a warning sign that there may be other vascular problems in your future.

So in terms of treatment for erectile dysfunction, I must first mention prevention. Regardless of who you are – a man with prostate disease, a man with high blood pressure, a man who’s got diabetes – if you’re a smoker, smoking does not get along well with erections.

So if you can stop smoking – ideally, right today, but at the first sign of any difficulties, you may put off more severe degrees of erectile dysfunction before they even develop. Having your blood pressure under control, having your blood sugars well controlled if you have diabetes, those and high cholesterol as well are all risk factors for erections starting to dwindle and erectile dysfunction.

A small group of men who have erection difficulties have hormone problems. They have perhaps low testosterone, which is generally easily treated with testosterone replacement. The larger group of men have damage to the penis that we cannot reverse, but fortunately there are oral agents – they’re called PDE5 inhibitors – that are very effective in erectile dysfunction.

So if you’re a man who is suffering from erectile dysfunction, you should know that treatment is available. But you should also ask the question “Why has this happened to me?” And work with your health care provider to find out why. Is it a hormonal problem? Is it because you have uncontrolled blood pressure? Is it because you’re a smoker? Or is there some factor that you can change to improve your health?

We don’t want you just to take the medication and carry on your way, because you haven’t solved the underlying problem. It’s important to discuss your particular situation with your pharmacist or health care provider in terms of how it impacts your health and it may have an impact on other medications you’re taking.

Presenter: Dr. Richard Bebb, Endocrinologist, Victoria, BC

Local Practitioners: Endocrinologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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