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July 10, 2002

Complications

Question from the Netherlands:

I am 33 years old, was diagnosed with (they say) type 1 diabetes a year ago, and I am in very good control. Nevertheless, I have a neuropathy in my left leg, and my penis is feeling more numb than it used to be. I'm very scared about that, is it a sign of impotence coming up? Is it possible that I have type�2 diabetes and damage has been done over a couple of years? I'm not overweight, but for about five years, I have been broken-hearted from very hard working and a complex (love) relationship that caused a lot of extreme pain.

Answer:

Decreased sensation over the penis may be a sign of neuropathy from diabetes. However, it is uncommon to have neuropathy one year after the diagnosis of type�1 diabetes. This is especially true if your control is as good as you indicate.

The most common evidence of neuropathy in diabetes is the difficulty of maintaining an erection. This is not necessarily what you are describing. Is it possible you have some form of spinal nerve compression from another cause? Depression and alcohol can also cause difficulty with sexual function. The bottom line, there may be multiple causes for your other symptoms, in addition to the diabetes.

JTL