Sexual Dysfunction and Diabetes

BIDMC Contributor

NOVEMBER 01, 2012


Sexual problems (sexual dysfunction) are common among people with diabetes, particularly in older men who have had diabetes for years. In addition, many medical experts believe that women with diabetes experience sexual difficulties as a result of complications from the disease. 

People who experience sexual difficulties can lead more enjoyable, fulfilling sexual lives by learning about common causes and symptoms of sexual difficulties, treatment options, and how to talk it over with a doctor or mate.

How common is the problem?

  • At any given time an estimated 30 million American men, or 1 in 10, experience impotence (erectile dysfunction), defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse more frequent than one out of four times. But, sexual difficulties in people with diabetes are not always related to their disease.
  • Impotence can occur in men of any age, but it most often affects older men. A recent study of 1,300 males found some degree of erection difficulty in 52 percent of participants ages 40 to 70.
  • More than 50 percent of the estimated 10 million men with diagnosed type 2 diabetes experience impotence.
  • In men whose diabetes is well controlled, the rate of impotence is about 30 percent.
  • Approximately 35 percent of women with diabetes may experience some form of sexual dysfunction related to their disease.

Of people with complications from diabetes, 50 to 70 percent of men and 40 to 50 percent of women may have sexual difficulties because of nerve damage. 

Posted November 2012

Joslin Diabetes Center
A Clinical Partner of BIDMC
One Joslin Place
Boston, MA 02215

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.