The Journal of Sexual Medicine recently published a new study demonstrating that weight loss in men with Type 2 diabetes is more than just a healthy choice. It also improves sexual health, increasing erectile function and desire while lowering the risk of developing urinary tract symptoms.
The research team at the University of Adelaide, led by Professor Gary Wittert, MBBch, MD, FRACP, FRCP, conducted the study on 31 men who were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and classified as obese. The study lasted eight weeks and utilized two mechanics of weight loss: the men either ate a low-calorie diet based on meal replacements or a reduced carbohydrate, high protein, and low fat diet designed to decrease the patient’s nutritional intake by 600 calories a day.
The results of the study showed that even with just a 5 percent weight loss after eight weeks of the diet, the diabetic men demonstrated a decrease in sexual and urinary problems. The men’s’ sexual health continued to improve for a full year.
“Our findings are consistent with the evidence that not only erectile function, but also lower urinary tract symptoms are a marker of cardio-metabolic risk,” said Wittert. “The evidence that improvement can be achieved by modest weight loss, in particular when a diet is of high nutritional quality, is of public health significance in framing public health messages that resonate with men.”
Wittert hopes that framing weight loss in diabetic men as improving sexual function and health will be an effective wake-up call to men that they should work to lose weight. Since even a small amount of weight loss provides tangible benefits, Wittert believes that these findings will provide new data that will motivate men, especially those with diabetes, to take control of their weight loss and make a concerted effort.
“This important paper supports earlier publications that lifestyle is relevant and can positively affect sexual function,” said Irwin Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, where the study was published. “At a time when oral drugs are very popular, it can now be shown that weight loss is an important non-pharmacologic therapeutic intervention in restoring erectile and urinary function and cardiovascular health,” continued Goldstein. “Obesity is an epidemic, and such data reinforce the positive relationship between eating right, losing weight, improved sexual function and voiding and overall cardiovascular health.”
According to the Harvard Medical School Joslin Diabetes Center, diabetes is commonly associated with sexual dysfunction in not only men but women as well. Thirty million American men experience impotence (or erectile dysfunction, the inability to achieve or maintain an erection); half of the 10 million American men diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes will suffer from impotence. Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to suffer from impotence than non-diabetics. However, if a man’s diabetes is under control, he only has a 30 percent chance of suffering impotence.
Nerve damage is another risk factor in sexual for men with diabetes, with 50 to 70 percent of men with nerve damage experiencing impotence. Since sexual arousal occurs when a sexual stimulus causes the body’s autonomic nerves to signal more blood flow to the erectile tissue in the genitals, damage to the nervous system can impair this process and prevent the signals from ever reaching their destination.