Men with diabetes are twice as likely as other men to experience erectile dysfunction (ED).
What’s more, they tend to develop erection problems 10 to 15 years earlier than men who don’t have diabetes. Those numbers may sound grim, but there’s hope. You can take control of your sexual health by managing your blood glucose, or blood sugar levels.
If you want to prevent erection problems or keep them from getting worse, you must control your blood sugar and get your numbers as close to normal as possible. That means diligent self-monitoring, taking any diabetes medications your doctor has prescribed, andv being committed to healthy living.
The best approach is to follow a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and maintain a normal weight. Some people with diabetes are able to gain control of their blood sugar levels with lifestyle changes alone. Some may need to take medication to keep their numbers as close to normal as possible. But it’s important to keep in mind that diabetes medications work best when you make the effort to eat right and be physically active.
The Key to Success: Testing Blood Sugar Levels
If you have diabetes and take insulin you should test your blood sugar levels three or more times daily. Home blood glucose monitoring can be done fasting, before or two hours after meals, and at bedtime. Exactly how often you should test your blood sugar and at what times depends on your specific needs and what your doctor tells you to do.
When you’re trying to get your levels down to your goal, or if you are changing therapies, it’s a good idea to test more often. By testing before and after meals, in the morning, and before bed you can create a detailed picture of how your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day. That will help your doctor tailor your treatment for the best control.
Everyone with diabetes should know his A1C score. The A1C test measures your average blood sugar levels over three months. If you haven’t been doing regular finger-sticks, this test will tell you how well you’ve been controlling your blood sugar levels.
The A1C test score is given as a percentage, ranging from 6% to 12%.
A score below 6% is normal for people without diabetes. You should aim for an A1C score of less than 7%. If you have a score any higher than that you are at higher risk for problems like erectile dysfunction. It’s best to have your level checked at least twice a year.
Even a 1% drop in your A1C score has a big impact. One of the largest studies so far on type 2 diabetes shows that people who lower their A1C score by 1% have a 35% lower risk for the kinds of complications that cause ED. One study directly linked high A1C scores to erectile dysfunction and low A1C scores to better sexual function.
If at all possible, you should aim to get your A1C score down into the range of 6% or less, where people without diabetes are. Research has shown that there’s no floor, so to speak, when it comes to the benefit of lowering A1C.
If your blood sugar levels have been out of control, you should have the test more frequently.
Another important factor is how you take your diabetes medication. Follow directions carefully and don’t skip doses. Skipping doses often results in worse blood sugar control and added complications from the diabetes. And don’t forget guys, if you want to be a tiger in the bed, check your blood sugars so you don’t end up down and out.
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