Screening men for erectile dysfunction (ED) could be an effective way to detect type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, based the study on the hypothesis that men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to have type 2 diabetes than men without erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is a common complication in men with diabetes. It occurs as a result of nerve damage. The researchers hoped that in some cases the erectile dysfunction would reveal undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
“Erectile dysfunction can act as an important tool to trigger both patients and physicians to screen for diabetes,” wrote the researchers.
“Although we observed significant associations between undiagnosed diabetes and more traditional cardiovascular risk factors, erectile dysfunction is unique because of its common symptomatology and available treatment options. As such, it can act as a useful incentive for men to access the healthcare system and be readily screened.”
The researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They evaluated blood pressure samples from 2,224 participants, cholesterol samples from 2,287 participants, and 1,417 participants were screened for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found significant differences between the participants with erectile dysfunction and the participants without. 19.4 per cent of ED patients had undiagnosed hypertensio, compared to 9.3 per cent of non-ED patients. 11.5 per cent of ED patients with available fasting blood glucose test results had undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, compared to just 2.8 per cent of non-ED patients.
The study does not indicate that erectile dysfunction causes type 2 diabetes. Rather, it suggests that undiagnosed type 2 diabetes causes erectile dysfunction, and that screening for ED could be an effective way to discover and treat more cases of type 2 diabetes. Undiagnosed diabetes can lead to exposure to high blood glucose levels, which increases the risk of complications in the future. It is vital that diabetes is diagnosed as soon as possible.
“In conclusio, men with erectile dysfunction, particularly those who are middle-aged, should be made aware of their potential for having underlying diabetes and be encouraged to obtain screening,” wrote the researchers.
“In the same vei, physicians should be vigilant in obtaining sexual histories in middle-aged men and screening those with erectile dysfunction for diabetes.”
The findings were published in Annals of Family Medicine.

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