For most men, the penis can be a wonderful source of pleasure. Sex and intimacy can bring a man much closer to his partner, provide relief of tension and stress, and simply make him feel good. Many men connect their ‘manliness’ to that pleasure. So when, in spite of the best efforts at penis care, something goes wrong, and penile nerve damage wreaks havoc on a man’s personal life, it can feel as though the whole world is crashing down.

Though there might be many reasons for the loss of sensation in penis tissue, diabetes is one very clear culprit. Diabetes and penile problems go hand-in-hand. This is due to the physical nature of how the penis actually works during sexual activity: The tiny blood vessels throughout the penis become engorged with blood, leading to an erection. That pleasant feeling of fullness might ebb and flow a bit during sexual activity, but typically lasts until ejaculation.

Diabetes and penile problems

Those with diabetes, however, might experience something very different. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 70 percent of those with diabetes also have some form of neuropathy, or nerve damage. That damage can occur anywhere in the body, but especially in areas that have the tiniest blood vessels, such as the hands, feet, kidneys, and yes - the penis. Lack of attention to blood sugar levels can mean that sexual pleasure decreases, or is even out of reach for some with diabetes.

Penile nerve damage as a result of diabetes is known as autonomic neuropathy. It gradually decreases the sexual response, though the sex drive itself remains unchanged. This might mean it becomes more difficult achieve and maintain an erection and difficulty with climax. It might even mean that a man ejaculates in a way that is different - and perhaps less satisfying - than what he is accustomed to. In addition, the damage to those nerves can lead to a loss of sensation in the penis.

But what if a man has signs of penile nerve damage, but has never been diagnosed with diabetes? It is important to remember two key points.

First, remember that in the United States alone, over eight million people have diabetes but are undiagnosed. That means that over one-fourth of all individuals with diabetes do not know they have it! One of the first things a doctor should do for penile nerve damage complaints is a complete blood work-up, which includes diabetes testing.

The second point to remember is that penile nerve damage might be caused by something other than diabetes. A physical trauma that affects the genital area, some sexually transmitted diseases, vascular diseases, certain medications, and even some neurological disorders can lead to penile problems. No matter what might be leading to the problems, it is vitally important to get checked out by the physician, who can pinpoint any underlying issues.

How to handle penile nerve damage

Though severe nerve damage cannot be reversed, the symptoms can be lessened a bit by paying close attention to blood sugar levels. Those who have diabetes can perform regular glucose checks, take their medication as directed, and strive for a good overall blood sugar reading, known as the HbA1c. Though nerve damage symptoms might initially get worse when blood sugar is brought under tight control, over time some of the symptoms will likely improve.

In addition, the use of a good moisturizing penis cream can provide excellent benefits. A penis health crème (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) that contains alpha-lipoic acid might help relieve symptoms and improve nerve function. Other ingredients, such as acetyl L carnitine, have been proven as a neuroprotective, meaning that it helps prevent some of the nerve damage that might be caused by diabetes. In addition, diabetes often leads to dry skin - a powerful emollient, such as Shea butter, will help soften the skin and keep it supple.