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The Link Between Diabetes and Decreased Testosterone in Men

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Men with type 2 diabetes often have decreased testosterone. There are many symptoms. It is important to understand how it may affect your life.

Much is known about diabetes, but one thing that the general public is typically not aware of is the link between type 2 diabetes testosterone in men, especially those over 45. Many studies have suggested a link between diabetes and testosterone. There are several advantages to learning about this link. If you have type 2 diabetes and a low energy level, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, or find yourself lacking in strength that used to be there, then you may be experiencing decreased testosterone.

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a male androgen sex hormone. The pituitary gland releases a luteinizing hormone that causes the testes to produce testosterone. This testosterone is responsible for the production of male sexual characteristics. In adult men, it maintains increased muscle mass and body hair growth, maintains energy and mood, and aids in the proper functioning of a number of other hormones.

Symptoms of Decreased Testosterone

Signs of decreased testosterone are fairly standard and usually manifest in a few noticeable symptoms.

  • Low energy levels – Men with decreased testosterone may experience poor energy levels. They may have a decreased desire to perform normal activities including those they find enjoyable. They may feel a desire to nap in the evening or feel tired throughout the day.
  • Poor mood – Men may feel overly sad or experience symptoms similar to depression.
  • Decreased strength – If you find yourself unable or less able to perform physical tasks you once took for granted, you may be experiencing the decreased muscle strength associated with low testosterone.
  • Decreased libido – If you have noticed that you are less likely to become aroused or have less desire to take part in or to seek out sexual activity, then it could be an associated symptom.
  • Erectile Dysfunction – The American Diabetes Association reports that up to 70% of men with low testosterone may experience erectile dysfunction.

Several of these symptoms may have been diagnosed in other ways, usually as depression or just as erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms and have type 2 diabetes, have your testosterone level checked. Your depression or erectile dysfunction may have a treatable cause.

The Facts

According to the American Diabetes Association, men who have type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from testosterone deficiency when compared to men who do not have diabetes. A survey conducted by the ADA showed that among the 12 million American men who have type 2 diabetes, they and their wives were unaware of a link between diabetes and testosterone, suggesting a need for awareness for many good reasons.

A recent study presented at the Endocrine Society National Convention showed that type 2 diabetic men with testosterone deficiency showed better metabolic control when receiving testosterone supplements. This increased control included better blood sugar levels and decreased cholesterol levels. If this isn’t enough, a study presented at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual meeting showed that men with type 2 diabetes and low testosterone lived shorter lives than men who received testosterone supplements for their low levels.

Potential Causes

According to Dr. David Fenig, MD on EverydayHealth.com, there are two potential pathways. Men with decreased testosterone are more likely to become obese due to decreased energy, muscle, and effective insulin, which leads to type 2 diabetes. Testosterone makes insulin more effective. Less effective insulin can create type 2 diabetes. The other possible pathway involves diabetes creating a testosterone deficiency. Type 2 diabetes may lead to a decrease in the production of luteinizing hormone by the pituitary gland, which leads to decreased testosterone.

How to Fix it

A testosterone supplement is the best way to deal with the symptoms of low testosterone. These are available in the form of gels, patches, and injections.

Increasing your testosterone as a male type 2 diabetic can play an important role in bettering your health. Higher energy levels and muscle mass mean better sugar control and a better metabolic rate. When combined with diet and exercise it can help decrease your weight and provide better functioning of the insulin your body produces. If your type 2 diabetes is due to poorly functioning insulin, it can lessen the amounts of medicine you take. In some cases with good control and weight loss, type 2 diabetics have been able to declassify themselves as diabetics.

Testosterone is only a tool and is only needed if you have a low testosterone level. Men with prostate or male breast cancer who have type 2 diabetes and low testosterone are not recommended for testosterone supplementation as it can increase cancer cell growth. If you suspect you have a low testosterone level take the ADAM questionnaire available through the ADA and talk to your doctor. It could dramatically change your life with type 2 diabetes.
Sources of information

  • EverydayHealth.com. Accessed 3 January 2012.
  • Diabetes.org. (2011). “Low Testosterone.” The American Diabetes Association. Accessed 3 January 2012.
  • Endo-Society.org. (2007). “Testosterone – Deficient Diabetic Men Benefit from Testosterone Replacement.” The Endocrine Society. Accessed 3 January 2012.
  • ScienceDaily.com. (2011). “Increase in Deaths in Men With Type 2 Diabetes and Testosterone Deficiency May be Prevented by Testosterone Replacement, Study Suggests.” Science Daily. Accessed 3 January 2012.

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