Penis Problems With Type 1 Diabetes: What the f*ck do you do?

Penis Problems With Type 1 Diabetes: What the f*ck do you do?

If you’ve ever struggled with an uncooperative penis during sex (as in, it won’t stay hard) you’ll know how frustrating and awkward that can be. As if you’re not already dealing with enough – what with getting tangled in pump cords and worrying about potential hypos during sex.

Diabetes-related penis problems suck. So what the f*ck do you do about it?

Firstly, chill out (because you’re not the only one)

A lot of guys experience – we’ll say the scary clinical term – ‘erectile dysfunction’ (ED) at some point in life, irrespective of having diabetes. At least a third of all men 40 and over have it to some degree, and this number increases with age.

But it’s especially common for guys with Type 1 Diabetes. In fact, 58% of diabetic men aged 18-35 have experienced it.


Erectile dysfunction with diabetes: Why it happens

ED is common in men with diabetes because high blood glucose can cause damage to blood vessels and nerves in our bodies, including in the penis. This impacts the body’s ability to fill the penis with blood to get an erection.

So it goes without saying that managing blood sugar levels can help prevent ED from occurring. But there could be other causes of your penis not playing nice too.

ED can be brought on by:

  • Psychological issues like stress, anxiety, or depression.

  • Lifestyle factors like excessive smoking or drinking.

  • Other health conditions like being overweight, or having high blood pressure or cholesterol.

  • Use of certain medications.

A lot of medical professionals love to just ‘blame the diabetes’ – but don’t accept that BS. Your ED could be happening because you’re stressed out, for example. You should discuss all potential causes and options with a trusted and non-judgy doctor. 

Chat with your GP (it’s worth it)

No one loves bringing up sex stuff with the doctor. It’s awkward. But this should be your first port of call when dealing with ED. And don’t worry – they get asked about this all the time.

They’ll probably ask about how your diabetes management is going, but they should also ask about other factors that may affect your performance in bed, like your mental health, diet, etc.

Your GP can then discuss treatment options with you, or chat about changes you could make to your diabetes management.

Potential treatment options for ED

  • Lifestyle changes – exercise, diet changes, reducing stress etc.

  • Medication – oral tablets or penis injections (which sound horrendous, but hey, you’re probably good with needles).

  • Sex tools – like a vacuum pump and penile ring. 


Have a diabetes talk with your partner (ooh, yes sexy)

It may not be the sexiest sort of pillow talk, but try to have an open conversation with your partner about your ED. Acknowledge what’s going on with you, how sh*t it probably makes you feel, and what you’re thinking of doing about it.

It can help to understand how it impacts their experience too – for example, they may not be that bothered at all and you could be overthinking the whole thing.

Together, you and your partner can come up with some strategies for how to keep things sexy when your penis isn’t feeling that into it. Chances are, by getting it all out in the open you’ll be able to relax, take the pressure off yourself, and have a better time.

In casual sex scenarios, you may like to have a quick chat with the girl or guy so they know what to expect. If your penis isn’t going to cooperate, this could be a good excuse to get creative in your sexual endeavours and find pleasure in other ways.  

Try to enjoy yourself anyway

Even with diabetes, sex can be awesome. And while a stupid pancreas can cause issues (for guys or girls), it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life.

If you’re feeling stressed out about your ED or diabetes complications, it may help to talk to a psychologist about it. Stress and anxiety do NOT make for a pleasant sexual encounter. Sorting your head out can do wonders.

Keep in mind, this article shouldn’t replace medical advice from your doctor or endocrinologist. Check in with your team for information that’s relevant to you.


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What a great blog post. Thanks for talking so frankly about this issue that affects many of us with diabetes (and by the sounds of it from your post, many of us over 40!) Love that it’s so down to earth and matter of fact. I plucked up the courage to talk to my doctor and after a referral to a urologist, got a script for cialis which is now available in a generic version so no longer the hundreds of dollars a month it used to be. So now it’s just a $30 per month medication I have to take and I’m back to normality.


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