What Are The Symptoms of Diabetes in Men? Are They Different From Those in Women? Let’s Find Out.

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Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBSGeneral Physician, 6+ Years
Published On : 20-Sep-2022Read Time : 4 minutes
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The incidence and prevalence of diabetes is higher than it was a decade ago. It seems to be everywhere. Sometimes, it is someone you know, sometimes a family member, and at times, someone you never imagined! Have you wondered if diabetes shows up differently? Are the symptoms of diabetes in men very specific or any different from those in women? Let’s find out. 

Contents:

  • Common Symptoms of Diabetes in Men and Women 
  • Unique Symptoms of Diabetes in Men 
  • Don’t Have Time To Read? 
  • FAQs 

Common Symptoms of Diabetes in Men and Women

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which your body either cannot produce enough of the insulin hormone or cannot use it effectively or both. Insulin is responsible for the uptake of glucose by your body’s cells. Thus, in diabetes, glucose is not taken up by the cells and your blood glucose levels go up. 

Diabetes, and its predecessor stage, prediabetes, usually affect men and women in similar ways. Prediabetes is a condition in which you have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. A fasting blood glucose level between 100 to 125 mg/dL is usually regarded as prediabetes. 

Most men and women will not have any symptoms of prediabetes, until it develops into Type 2 diabetes. Some prediabetic individuals may show symptoms including:

  • Darkening of skin in the armpit, elbows, knees, back, and/or sides of the neck (acanthosis nigricans).
  • Skin tags, which are small skin growths.

While several symptoms of diabetes are specific only to men and only to women, several diabetes symptoms are common to both men and women. These symptoms include: 

  • Unintended weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive thirst (polydipsia)
  • Extreme hunger (polyphagia)
  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Nausea
  • Sweet or fruity-smelling breath
  • Skin infections
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

Unique Symptoms of Diabetes in Men

Diabetes can cause certain symptoms specific to men, and many of these symptoms are related to their sexual health. Specific diabetes symptoms in men are:

1. Damaged Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the part of the nervous system that regulates a variety of body processes taking place without conscious effort. It regulates the internal organs, including the blood vessels, stomach, intestine, liver, etc. 

High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels, causing harm to the ANS. Damage to the ANS can lead to sexual health problems in men. 

2. Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. If the blood vessels and nerves in the penis are injured by diabetes, it can cause ED. Blood vessels damaged by diabetes can also slow down blood flow into the penis and lead to ED. 

ED is a common condition among diabetic men. If you experience ED often, diabetes may be the cause.

3. Retrograde Ejaculation

Diabetes can also cause retrograde ejaculation in men, where some semen is released into the bladder instead of emerging out of the penis during an orgasm. As a result, less semen is released during ejaculation. 

Although the semen that is released into the bladder mixes with urine and is removed during urination, retrograde ejaculation may lead to male infertility.

4. Low Testosterone Levels

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. Low testosterone levels in men may be referred to as male hypogonadism or testosterone deficiency syndrome.

Research suggests that men with type 2 diabetes usually have low testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels may result in a reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, increased body fat, reduced muscle mass, and fatigue in men.

5. Urological Problems

The nerve damage in men due to diabetes can also lead to issues with urological health. Problems include an overactive bladder, inability to control urination, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

6. Genital Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection caused by the overgrowth of a type of fungus called Candida. Genital thrush is when there is an overgrowth of the fungus in the genital area of men. 

In diabetes, the excess glucose present in the blood may get excreted in the urine. However, the sugar still acts as a nutrition source for the yeast to overgrow and cause an infection on the penis. Symptoms of genital thrush include redness, swelling, and itching around the head of the penis, foul odour, and discomfort during sex.

7. Reduced Muscle Mass

In diabetes, consistently raised blood sugar levels and the insufficient action of insulin may suppress the growth and proliferation of muscle cells, leading to a decline in skeletal muscle mass. This results in reduced strength and muscle weakness. This symptom of diabetes is more common in men with Type 1 diabetes. 

Watch out for these common and male-specific symptoms of diabetes, and seek immediate medical attention to get your blood glucose levels checked at the earliest. If your blood glucose levels are elevated (prediabetes) and you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, a timely intervention into your diet and lifestyle may be able to prevent the condition from progressing to diabetes. 

If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you can manage the condition and prevent further complications with healthy lifestyle behaviours and appropriate medications.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs due to insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels. There are several symptoms of diabetes, some being common across all individuals, and some unique to men. 
  • Some diabetes symptoms common to men and women are increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, blurry vision, exhaustion, and slow healing of wounds.
  • The unique signs of diabetes in men include damage to the autonomous nervous system (ANS), erectile dysfunction, retrograde ejaculation, genital thrush, and reduced muscle mass.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

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