Connection Between Diabetes and Low Testosterone: Link and Management

Posted April 7, 2021 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

Testosterone is a crucial hormone, particularly in men. Men who suffer from low testosterone can face a variety of struggles throughout life. However, finding the cause of low testosterone can help you receive the right treatment.

So, in this article, we will discuss the connection between diabetes and low testosterone. First, here is a quick answer to help get us started.

Diabetes and Low Testosterone: The connection between diabetes and low testosterone is twofold. High blood sugars caused by diabetes can make it more difficult for your body to stimulate testosterone production. On the other hand, low testosterone can cause muscle loss and fat gain, which can cause worsened insulin resistance.

Now that you have the quick answer, let’s give an overview of low testosterone and dive into more specifics.

Overview of low testosterone

Diabetes and low testosterone

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is believed to help regulate sex drive, bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, production of red blood cells, and sperm production.

However, when not enough testosterone is produced, it can start to cause problems.

Low testosterone can also be referred to as low T, testosterone deficiency, or hypogonadism. Lack of testosterone can lead to infertility, erection problems, weakened bones and muscles, and decreased libido.

There are a variety of factors that can cause testosterone deficiency. These factors can include aging, injury to the testicles, certain medications, and problems affecting the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.

Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also contribute to low testosterone.

The normal levels for testosterone are between 300 and 1,000 ng/dL. Experts generally hold the view that a level below 250 ng/dL is considered low testosterone.

However, individuals may experience the symptoms of low testosterone at the lower end of the normal range.

What’s the link between diabetes and low testosterone?

As we mentioned in the beginning, the connection between diabetes and low testosterone is twofold. Meaning, high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can affect testosterone production, and low testosterone lead to insulin resistance.

Research has shown that 43% of men with type 2 diabetes exhibited reduced testosterone levels.

It is crucial for people with diabetes to understand that high blood sugar can affect many parts of our body. This includes how well the body produces testosterone.

You see, the pituitary gland produces the luteinizing hormone (LH), which is responsible for triggering the testicles to start producing testosterone.

However, when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, the pituitary gland will struggle to produce enough LH. Thus, testosterone production is decreased.

Other studies have controversially determined that those with low testosterone levels may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, more research is still needed to determine this.

The basis of low testosterone causing type 2 diabetes is largely dependent on how the deficient testosterone levels affect other aspects of your life.

For example, low T can lead to decreased muscle mass and increased fat around the body. Excess fat is a major factor contributing to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

You see, it’s much easier to build muscle and lose fat when your testosterone levels are within the normal range. And muscle helps control blood sugar levels, as they allow your body to burn more calories at rest.

With lower testosterone and decreased muscle mass, you aren’t burning as many calories at rest. Thus, insulin resistance can worsen, causing blood sugar levels to get out of range.

Symptoms of diabetes and low testosterone

Common symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusually hungry
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Irritable
  • Blurry vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Wounds that take longer to heal

Common symptoms of low testosterone may include:

  • Low sex drive (decreased libido)
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Irritable
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression

As you can see, there is some crossover among the symptoms of diabetes and testosterone deficiency.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, consult your doctor. Your healthcare provider will be able to run some test and examine you physically to determine what exactly is causing these symptoms.

Managing diabetes and low testosterone

Diabetes and low testosterone

The symptoms of diabetes and low testosterone can really make living a high-quality life and performing daily functions difficult. However, with proper management, you can achieve a higher quality of life.

Proper management can be done through various lifestyle changes, such as adjustments to your diet.

Experts believe that sticking to a heart-healthy diet can be beneficial for both diabetes and low testosterone. Exercise is also a lifestyle change that can improve your overall health.

The combination of a healthy diet and exercise can promote fat loss, increase muscle mass, and help raise testosterone levels. Patients may notice an overall increase in insulin sensitivity through these lifestyle changes as well, bringing about controlled blood sugar levels.

In fact, exercising has been proven to increase testosterone levels. Now, the increase in levels may not be drastic or even for a long period.

However, for someone on the border of testosterone deficiency, regular exercise can certainly have an effect.

In addition to this, regular exercise can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

You may also be wondering if TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) is an option if you have diabetes. We answer that next.

TRT and diabetes

TRT is a treatment option for men that have low testosterone levels and do not have prostate or breast cancer. Your doctor should administer a blood test to determine if TRT is right for you.

In regard to receiving TRT if you have diabetes, it is generally considered safe and effective.

Studies have actually shown that the use of TRT, when appropriate, can help individuals reach their blood sugar target range. Therefore, those with type 2 diabetes and low testosterone may be able to improve their overall health and quality of life through TRT.

This is because testosterone helps the tissues of the body take up more glucose, reducing the severity of insulin resistance.

With this being said, if you choose to receive testosterone replacement, the treatment regimen for your diabetes may need to be adjusted.

Talk with your doctor about what changes need to be made, and remember to check your blood glucose levels often to have a basis to go off.

Final thoughts

As someone with diabetes, I strive to be aware of my risk for other complications. Testosterone deficiency is one aspect of my life I will be aware of and strive to prevent.

With proper management of your medical conditions, you can avoid suffering from further complications. One way to do this is by talking to your doctor and getting the right medication you need.

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