Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone, both men and women. When you have diabetes, your body has too much blood sugar which can cause medical problems. Diabetes is a serious disease and it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so you can get treatment if necessary. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about diabetes and the signs of diabetes in men. We will cover the signs of diabetes, the risk factors for diabetes, and the treatments for diabetes in men.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a common condition that affects the way your body uses glucose, which is also called blood sugar. Glucose comes from the food we eat and it is used by the body to provide energy for cells throughout the body. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to take in this glucose and store it or convert it into energy. When you have diabetes, you have high blood sugar levels your body cannot use or store glucose properly. Excess blood sugar can damage your body over time if left untreated.
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where your body stops producing insulin. When you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks the insulin-making cells in your pancreas, which is a small organ behind the stomach, causing your body to stop its production. People with type 1 diabetes do not make any insulin and must take it every day as part of their treatment. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and is usually diagnosed as a child, teen, or early adult which is why it is also called juvenile diabetes and also insulin-dependent diabetes. Additionally, type 1 diabetes can happen to anyone at any age.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It usually occurs in adulthood, but more and more children are being diagnosed with it. In type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance when your body becomes resistant to insulin and can lead to an elevated blood sugar level due to the fact that your cells aren’t using the insulin to take in glucose. Type 2 diabetes is usually the result of poor lifestyle choices and in most cases is preventable and used to be called adult-onset diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. It typically goes away after the baby is born, but women who have gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
- Extreme thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss even if you have been eating more
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections
- Eye damage
- Slow-healing wounds
- Numbness or tingling in your extremities
What are the symptoms of diabetes that occur only in men?
There are certain symptoms of diabetes that only occur in men. These symptoms include:
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction is when a man can not become or stay erect due to lack of blood flow to the penis and can be caused by a number of reasons including medications, alcohol use, and diabetes. The condition can be treated with Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications, but diabetes does make it three times more likely that you will experience it.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that helps with the development of male reproductive tissues, facial hair, and muscles. It also aids in the production of sperm. Low testosterone levels can lead to decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. If you have type 2 diabetes as a man, you are twice as likely to have low testosterone because of it.
Retrograde ejaculation is when semen goes backward into the bladder instead of coming out through the penis. This can be caused by a number of things including diabetes, surgery, and some medications. Retrograde ejaculation does not cause any harm to your body but it can make it difficult for you to father a child because the sperm will not be in the semen that is released during orgasm. Retrograde ejaculation is caused by damage to your bladder due to diabetic neuropathy, or damaged nerves due to diabetes, and both are symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that is located just below the bladder. It is responsible for producing some of the fluid in semen and helps to transport sperm during ejaculation. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra and cause urinary problems including difficulty urinating, a weak stream, hesitating before urination, dribbling after urination, and the need to go more often, especially at night. An enlarged prostate is common in men as they age, but it can also be a sign of prostate cancer. Having diabetes as a man means you are slightly over twice as likely to have an enlarged prostate
Male incontinence or urine leakage
Male incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. It can be caused by a number of things including diabetes, an enlarged prostate, and nerve damage.
These are some of the symptoms that occur in men with diabetes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor to understand the causes and find the right treatment plan for you.
What are the risk factors for diabetes in men?
Depending on if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there are risk factors that give you a greater chance of developing diabetes. Let’s examine the risk factors for each below.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
There are several important risk factors that could increase your chance of getting type 1 diabetes. These include:
- Genetic factors such as a family history of type 1 diabetes or if a parent or sibling has type 1 diabetes, your risk of diabetes increases
- Environmental factors such as certain viruses
- Age also can be a risk factor as type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed as a child, teen, or young adult although anyone at any age can get it
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is usually preventable, and there are a number of lifestyle choices and other factors that can put you at a higher risk of being diagnosed with it. These include:
- Genetic factors such as your family history can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Age plays a factor for type 2 diabetes as it is mostly found in adults although you can also be diagnosed with it as a teen or child too
- Obesity and being overweight
- Poor diet choices
- Ethnicity can also play a role as certain ethnic groups are more likely to get type 2 diabetes
- Lack of exercise or physical activity
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Alcohol or tobacco use
- Low levels of LDL or the “good” cholesterol
- Having prediabetes, which is when your blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes yet
What are the treatments for diabetes?
Treatment options will be dependent on what type of diabetes you have. For people with type 1 diabetes, insulin therapy through a pump or injections as prescribed by your doctor is necessary as is monitoring your blood glucose levels. There are a number of different treatments for type 2 diabetes that your doctor may recommend with some overlap to type 1 diabetes. These include:
- Healthy eating habits and making healthy food choices
- Exercising regularly
- Taking your diabetes medication as prescribed by your doctor, which may include insulin injections or pills
- Monitoring blood sugar levels
- Quitting or lowering alcohol and tobacco use
- Monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure
Managing diabetes can seem overwhelming but with the right tools and support, you can live a long and healthy life. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the best diabetes management plan for you.
Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone at any age; however, there are certain symptoms that only pertain to men. These include erectile dysfunction, male incontinence, low testosterone, enlarged prostate, and retrograde ejaculation. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and to manage it you should watch your diet and take your insulin or medications as prescribed by your doctor. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can be prevented for most people and there are certain lifestyle choices you can make to help manage or prevent it including eating healthy, regular exercise, limiting or stopping alcohol and tobacco use, and monitoring your blood sugar levels among others. If you have any other questions or think you may have diabetes please talk to your doctor or health care provider.
References and Sources:
American Diabetes Association
Diabetes In Control
Fact Checked and Editorial Process
Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Erik Rivera and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera.
Owner, entrepreneur, and consumer health enthusiast.