Is There a Connection Between Low Testosterone and Diabetes?


Sara Cheshire

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If you’re feeling tired, weaker than normal and your bedroom performance isn’t what it used to be, low testosterone might be the culprit. Not only can it be embarrassing to discuss, but it may mean a trip to the doctor. But does low testosterone also mean you have to worry about diabetes?

It turns out if you have type 2 diabetes, you’re twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone. So it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about having your blood sugar checked if you have low T, you’re overweight, over the age of 45, or have a history of diabetes in your family.

Having low testosterone may also increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, especially if you tend to spend more time on the couch than you do in the gym or on the golf course. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions including:

  • High blood pressure

  • High blood sugar levels

  • Fat around the waist

  • Abnormal cholesterol levels

The more conditions present, the higher your risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease -- especially if you’re a man over 60.
Fortunately, losing weight is a simple step you can take to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and low testosterone -- all at the same time.

Lifestyle Recommendations

Use an adult BMI calculator to determine if you have a healthy weight based on your height. If you aren’t at a healthy weight, losing weight through exercise and a healthy diet can help put you on the right track.

The basic recommendation is 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. When it comes to diet, reduce your consumption of sodium, fats and sugars, and focus instead on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Mom was right -- it’s good practice to eat your veggies before reaching for dessert.

Not to crash the party, but don’t forget to watch your alcohol intake as well, especially if you have diabetes or are concerned about developing the disease. It’s best to limit your drinks to two per day (if you’re a man) and avoid imbibing on an empty stomach. Craft beers tend to have a higher alcohol content, so cheers instead with a cocktail mixed with soda water or choose a light beer.

If you decide to use hormones to treat your low T, be aware that long-term use of hormone treatments may contribute to sleep apnea, stimulate growth of existing prostate cancer, and increase the risk of heart attack. Some studies have also found that these treatments can be hit or miss.

But with a healthy diet and exercise you can continue indefinitely without negative side effects. A simple place to start is to take three 10-minute walks throughout the day, eat an extra serving of vegetables and limit your consumption of soft drinks, which are often high in sugar.

While aging does involve some loss of energy and muscle, talk to your doctor if you feel your symptoms are severe or your quality of life is affected. Your golden years should be just that, with the ability to enjoy the occasional treat, whether a piece of cake or quality time with your partner.

Smiling Man

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 11, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Li, Chaoyang, et. al. Association of Testosterone and Sex Hormone–Binding Globulin With Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance in Men. Diabetes Care. 2010; 33(7):1618-1624.
  2. Prevent Diabetes. Centers for Disesae Control.
  3. Alcohol. American Diabetes Association.
  4. Low Testosterone. American Diabetes Association.
  5. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
  6. Metabolic Syndrome. Mayo Clinic.
  7. I'm considering low testosterone treatment. What are the different types of testosterone replacement therapy? Mayo Clinic.
  8. Testosterone therapy: Key to male vitality? Mayo Clinic.

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