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Men with erectile dysfunction can have a healthy sex drive, but find it difficult to get and keep an erection. Most older men have erectile dysfunction. In fact, the majority of men older than 70, regardless of whether they have diabetes, find it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection.

Unfortunately, diabetes and erectile dysfunction go hand in hand. Men with diabetes face complications that increase their risk of erectile dysfunction. These include depression, loss of sensation in the penis due to nerve damage, damage to the blood vessels leading to the penis, and reduced levels of a male hormone called testosterone. Beta blockers and other medications for hypertension can be related to erectile dysfunction.

Men with erectile dysfunction are much more likely to have heart disease. These men are also at risk for complications like eye damage and nerve damage. Men who have had diabetes for several years—especially those with poorly controlled blood glucose—face the greatest risk of additional health problems. To effectively monitor and treat these complications, men should let their health care provider know if they have erectile dysfunction.

Men with type 2 diabetes who keep their blood glucose under control by losing weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet can sometimes reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Seeking help for emotional or psychological issues, such as marital problems, depression, and anxiety, can also help with erectile dysfunction symptoms.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, several medications for erectile dysfunction are available, including Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra), Tadalfil (Cialis) and Avanafil (Stendra). Ask your doctor which medication would be best for you.

In some cases, prescription medicines aren’t effective. If that happens, the doctor may refer the patient to an urologist, a specialist who treats male reproductive conditions. Additional treatments to help a man achieve and maintain an erection include vacuum devices, injectable medication, and surgical implants in the penis.

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