Diabetes raises the chance of getting heart disease and may affect your eyes, kidneys, skin, and other body parts. In people assigned male at birth, diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) and other urological problems.
Diabetes is a disease in which your body can’t produce enough insulin, can’t use insulin, or both. When living with diabetes, the sugar levels in your blood can fluctuate. Uncontrolled high blood sugar levels can lead to complications that affect several major organs throughout the body.
Type 1 typically develops in children through young adults and causes a rapid onset of symptoms. Type 2 diabetes typically develops in adults, though it can also occur in children and will often develop slowly over the course of several years.
You may not even notice symptoms of type 2 diabetes until they become noticeable. Once diagnosed, you can typically treat type 2 diabetes with the support of your healthcare team, as well as with dietary and exercise changes, along with other lifestyle interventions.
Read on to learn about the symptoms of diabetes and how it may affect males.
Are sex and gender the same thing?
People often use the terms sex and gender interchangeably, but they have different meanings:
- “Sex” refers to the physical characteristics that differentiate male, female, and intersex bodies.
- “Gender” refers to a person’s identity and how they feel inside. Examples include man, woman, nonbinary, agender, bigender, genderfluid, pangender, and trans. A person’s gender identity may be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.
- frequent urination
- unusual fatigue
- blurred vision
- weight loss, even without dieting
- tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
If you are living with diabetes, effective treatment can help to prevent complications from occurring. Complications may include issues with your:
Possible signs of complications related to diabetes can include:
- bacterial infections in your eyelids (styes) or hair follicles (folliculitis)
- infections under the fingernails or toenails
- stabbing or shooting pains in your hands and feet
Diabetes can also cause symptoms related to male sexual health. These can include:
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
It can be a symptom of many health issues, including:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- kidney disease
- circulatory conditions
- nervous system conditions
- obesity or overweight
Males with diabetes have a greater chance of developing ED. According to a 2017 meta-analysis of 145 studies, over 50% of men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction. The study included males with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, with no distinction in the results between the two.
If you are living with diabetes and develop ED, diabetes may be the underlying cause.
Damage to the autonomic nervous system (ANS)
Diabetes can harm the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and lead to sexual problems.
Males with diabetes can also face retrograde ejaculation. This results in some semen being released into the bladder. Symptoms may include noticeably less semen released during ejaculation or
Urologic issues can occur in males with diabetes due to diabetic nerve damage. These include:
- overactive bladder
- inability to control urination or leaking urine
- trouble urinating
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Other sexual issues
If you are living with diabetes, you may experience lower testosterone levels than others. Aging can naturally reduce your testosterone levels, leading to a loss of interest in sex, tiredness, and a depressed mood, but diabetes and obesity increase the likelihood of having lower levels.
Lower testosterone can lead to ED and other sexual health issues.
You may also increase your chance of developing Peyronie’s disease or penis curvature. The curve can make sexual intercourse more difficult and painful.
Type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes
Experts do not separate out symptoms in males with type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes, as most symptoms that affect either sex are generally the same. The difference usually lies in how long it takes symptoms to become noticeable and does not depend on a person’s sex. That symptoms tend to progress faster in type 1.
The complications, such as ED, occur due to high blood sugar levels, and can occur in both types if not well controlled.
That said, some things can be seen as different in males regarding type 1 or type 2. For example, both types of diabetes can cause low testosterone. Still, males with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have this issue compared to people who do not have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Talking frankly with a doctor or healthcare practitioner about ED and other sexual or urologic complications may help. Simple blood tests can help diagnose diabetes.
Investigating the cause of your ED or other issues may also help you discover other undiagnosed issues that may be contributing factors.
Type 1 diabetes has different risk factors. You are
If you are living with type 2 diabetes, chances are good that a healthcare team will help you develop a treatment plan that includes lifestyle modifications. Often, changes, such as exercise and dietary changes, can help you control your blood sugar levels.
If these are not effective, a doctor may recommend medications to help keep your blood glucose levels under control and prevent urological and other diabetes-related complications.
If you do develop diabetes-related problems, medications are available to help treat them.
Lifestyle changes may greatly impact your physical and mental well-being if you live with type 2 diabetes. They
Balancing your meal’s macronutrients can improve your overall health, keep blood sugar levels consistent, and delay the onset of diabetes symptoms. Try to get an even mixture of:
You can also benefit from a regular exercise schedule. This can help you feel better and also help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
Along with changes to diet and exercise, you will need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. This allows you to know if what you are doing is working and if you need to talk with your doctor about the possibility of medication.
Monitoring your blood sugar levels can also help you figure out what your symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels feel like. If you write this information down or record it, you can use signs of high or low blood sugar levels to help you know when to take action.
ED medications, such as tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and sildenafil (Viagra), may help you manage your condition. Medications mixed with prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds, can also be injected into your penis to help treat your ED.
Low testosterone can cause you to lose interest in sex, experience decreases in body mass, and feel depressed. Talking with your doctor about these symptoms can allow you to get treatments, such as testosterone injections or patches and gels that treat low testosterone.
Discuss all medications and supplements with a doctor to avoid potentially harmful drug interactions. Share any changes in your sleeping pattern or other lifestyle habits with your doctor.
Being proactive with your health can help. You should consider getting a blood test if you can’t remember the last time you had your blood glucose checked, especially if you’re experiencing ED or other possible diabetes symptoms or complications.
Diabetes and its complications, such as heart disease, can lead to emotional problems, including anxiety or depression. These can worsen your ED and other aspects of your health. Talk with your doctor if you experience hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, or worry.
What are the three early signs of diabetes?
Diabetes can present differently for different people. In some cases, a person may not develop any noticeable symptoms. When they do,
- producing a lot of urine
- excessive thirst
- losing weight without trying to
What age do men get diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, but being over age
How do you feel when diabetes starts?
Type 2 diabetes can start gradually. You may not notice any symptoms at all, or they may go unnoticed. If you have symptoms, you may notice fatigue, frequent urination, and thirst. You may also notice other symptoms, such as ED or losing weight without trying.
What causes diabetes in men?
Diabetes can cause several symptoms unique to men. The primary and easy-to-identify issue is ED, but you may also develop a curved penis, issues with urinary continence, or lower testosterone. Unregulated blood sugar levels can lead to several health complications, which can cause additional symptoms in different parts of your body.
With healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercise, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight, along with proper medications, you might be able to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing or manage complications and symptoms.