November 2012 — "Do you like to ejaculate?" I have asked this personal question to a few guys who persistently express their unwillingness to manage their weight, blood pressure, or diabetes. I have yet to receive an answer in the negative, such as, "Hell no!" "No way, Jose!" or "No siree Bob, not me!" I then explain the connection between diabetes and sex life, and how high blood sugar can cause nerve damage in the penis, which can cause failure to maintain an erection, and a not-so-happy ending.
Guys are attached to their penises, and they are so versatile! I have seen guys continually brag about the size of their member, presenting it as a status symbol. I have observed guys grabbing their crotches in public, as if seeking comfort and reassurance, as though it was a security blanket. Then there are guys, like myself (when I was much younger!), that have been known to think with their "wee-wees." Many fine country music songs, as well as rhythm and blues songs, have been written about this phenomena.
While they may not protect themselves from heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes — conditions that are known to negatively impact one's sexual performance —men seem more likely to protect their "winkies." I discovered this a few years ago when I was placing an electronic radon tester in a newly constructed house. The flooring and painting sub-contractors were still completing their work. If the radon monitor was in the way they would simply un-plug and move it, thus ruining my test. One day I was expressing my frustration to a builder, and he said I should place a health warning on the machine. This resulted in the following notice:
"WARNING! THIS DEVICE HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE SEXUAL MALFUNCTIONS IN LABORATORY ANIMALS. DO NOT COME WITHIN 10'!"
I never had another interrupted test.
Now men are not known for being very good communicators, and they don't normally discuss their penises with other men (including their doctor). This behavior results in us being a bit ignorant (and misinformed) about our "turtle heads." Many men have received a rude awakening after suffering complications from diabetes.
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, losing my fingers and toes was one of my primary concerns. I didn't know why they could be damaged, but I was aware that it was not uncommon for diabetics to suffer from such complications. My doctor informed me about the risk of excessive blood sugar damaging the nerves in appendages, which also included the appendage that could get a man arrested for indecent exposure if he waved it around in public. Needless to say, he got my attention. Since that time, I have read a number of accounts at TuDiabetes, etc., where men reported sexual non-performance due to heart attacks, diabetes, medication side effects, etc. These also got my attention.
So, in the spirit of American Diabetes Month, I urge all men to seize... no, that's not right. I urge all men to really get to know their penis by talking to their health care professional about how they can keep it happy, or maybe make it happy again.
Disclaimer dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Last Modified Date: June 06, 2013
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dLife's Sex & Intimacy Content is contributed & moderated by
Janis Roszler MSFT, RD, CDE, LDN
Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N is the American Association of Diabetes Educators' 2008-2009 Diabetes Educator of the Year. She is a certified diabetes educator, marriage and family therapist, and registered dietitian. Her books include Sex and Diabetes (ADA) Diabetes on your OWN Terms (Marlowe & Co) and The Secrets of Living and Loving with Diabetes (Surrey books).
Donna Rice MSW, BSN, RN, CDE
Donna Rice MBA,RN,CDE,FAADE is the 2007 Past President of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She is a registered nurse, diabetes educator and has developed numerous educational programs on sexual health and wellness. She is the co-author of Sex and Diabetes (ADA) and Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction - A Quick ‘n' Easy Handbook For the Diabetes Educator (Bella Vita). Her newest publication is a children's book, The Magic is Me (Searchlight Press).