Link between cardiovascular disease, diabetes and sexual dysfunction

Men who are experiencing some form of sexual dysfunction and also have type 1 diabetes might actually be showing signs that there is another issue at play with regards to their health. A recent study published in Postgraduate Medicine Journal suggests that in patients who have got type 1 diabetes, such dysfunction could be an indicator of cardiovascular disease.

It has been known for quite a few years now about the link between sexual dysfunction and type 2 diabetes, and given the fact that cases of diabetes are now more common and the number affected by it is expected to continue to grow, it seems that we will also see an increase in the number of men who experience sexual dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction, as well as some other forms of male sexual dysfunction, is known to be an indicator of other diseases; this isn’t always the case, but the link is there. For instance, an Italian study from 2011 looked at men with erectile dysfunction and investigated issues relating to obesity, risk of cardiovascular disease and testosterone levels.  They found that men who had low testosterone were either at more or less of a risk of cardiovascular disease, depending on their characteristics.

The key finding of this was that obese men with low testosterone can lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study by Sara Turek from the Boston Joslin Diabetes Centre looked at 301 men investigating issues of cardiovascular disease and sexual dysfunction.

The men were drawn from the 50-Year Medalist Study, which looks at men who have had type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years and is an ongoing project. Turek looked at how common sexual dysfunction was among the men in the study. She asked the question: “Have you ever had sexual problems?” 210 out of the 301 participants (nearly 70%) said yes.

The two groups of men – those not experiencing dysfunction and those who were affected by it – were compared. The study found that their mean results were almost the same. For instance, their respective mean BMIs were 25.8kg/m2 and 26.1kg/m2. Their total cholesterol was 150.1mg/dL compared with 159.3mg/dL. They also had similar results with regards to markers associated with cardiovascular disease.

39.3% of those who were in the non-sexual dysfunction group smoked compared with 51.7% in the group who had experienced sexual dysfunction, demonstrating a link between smoking and sexual dysfunction.

Turek said that the message to take away from the study is the fact that sexual dysfunction could be a sign of cardiovascular issues – one that is more overt that other signs of issues, such as cholesterol and hypertension.

It is important that any man who is experiencing sexual dysfunction and/or who has diabetes goes to see their GP. Their GPs should also talk about cardiovascular issues with them as erectile dysfunction could well be a sign of an increased risk of related diseases.