Erectile dysfunction in diabetes mellitus

J Sex Med. 2009 May;6(5):1232-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.01168.x. Epub 2009 Feb 10.


Introduction: Type 2 diabetes is reaching pandemic levels and young-onset type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common and distressing complication of diabetes. The pathophysiology and management of diabetic ED is significantly different to nondiabetic ED.

Aim: To provide an update on the epidemiology, risk factors, pathophysiology, and management of diabetic ED.

Method: Literature for this review was obtained from Medline and Embase searches and from relevant text books.

Main outcome measures: A comprehensive review on epidemiology, risk factors, pathophysiolgy, and management of diabetic ED.

Results: Large differences in the reported prevalence of ED from 35% to 90% among diabetic men could be due to differences in methodology and population characteristics. Advancing age, duration of diabetes, poor glycaemic control, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and presence of other diabetic complications have been shown to be associated with diabetic ED in cross-sectional studies. Diabetic ED is multifactorial in aetiology and is more severe and more resistant to treatment compared with nondiabetic ED. Optimized glycaemic control, management of associated comorbidities and lifestyle modifications are essential in all patients. Psychosexual and relationship counseling would be beneficial for men with such coexisting problems. Hypogonadism, commonly found in diabetes, may need identification and treatment. Maximal doses of phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors are often needed. Transurethral prostaglandins, intracavenorsal injections, vacuum devices, and penile implants are the available therapeutic options for nonresponders to PDE5 inhibitors and for whom PDE5 inhibitors are contraindicated. Premature ejaculation and reduced libido are conditions commonly associated with diabetic ED and should be identified and treated.

Conclusions: Aetiology of diabetic ED is multifactorial although the relative significance of these factors are not clear. A holistic approach is needed in the management of diabetic ED.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors