Erectile dysfunction extremely common among diabetics but seldom addressed

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – More than half of men with type 2 diabetes report erectile problems, yet only about one third say that their physician had ever investigated the issue, according to a report published in Diabetes Care for February.

Dr. Antonio Nicolucci, from Consorzio Mario Negri Sud in S. Maria Imbaro, Italy, and colleagues surveyed 1460 men with type 2 diabetes to determine the prevalence of erectile problems and the impact of these problems on quality of life measures.

Frequent, occasional, and no erectile problems were reported by 34%, 24%, and 42% of men, respectively, the authors state. However, only 10% of men said that their physicians often asked about any sexual problems while 63% of men "declared that their physicians had never investigated these aspects."

The likelihood of erectile dysfunction was directly linked to the amount of diabetes-related physical and psychological stress experienced. Both types of stress increased as metabolic control worsened, the researchers note.

Men with erectile problems were more likely to report severe depressive symptoms, lower mental health scores, and a less satisfactory sexual life than men without these problems.

"To our knowledge, this is the largest study evaluating quality of life in diabetic patients with erectile dysfunction," the researchers point out. "The strong association between sexual dysfunction and impaired quality of life justifies recognition of erectile dysfunction in diabetic patients as a significant public health problem and calls for a much greater attention to the identification of patients suffering from erectile dysfunction."

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