Diabetes: Effects on Men’s Health

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects your body’s ability to process sugar. The disease occurs in both men and women, and both sexes can experience secondary health risks, such as hypertension, kidney disease, and stroke. However, diabetes can also cause special problems for men, including low testosterone and erectile dysfunction.

Low Testosterone
The American Diabetes Association indicates that men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop low testosterone as those without. Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and plays a key role in the function of the male sex organs, and in developing secondary male sexual characteristics like body hair and a deep voice. Although testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, it also has other functions in the body including:

  • Development of muscle mass;
  • Development of bone mass, and preventing osteoporosis in men, and;
  • Memory and cognitive function.

Symptoms of low testosterone include:

  • Reduced muscle and bone mass, possibly accompanied by an increase in fat mass;
  • Depression;
  • Fatigue;
  • Loss of interest in sex with or without erectile dysfunction.

If you suspect that you have low testosterone, you can have your doctor administer a blood test to check your levels. If your levels are low, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, who would prescribe hormone replacement therapies and monitor your condition.

Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is characterized by an inability to achieve or maintain an erection, usually due to reduced blood flow to the penis. Diabetes can cause damage to all of the blood vessels in your body, which can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can also indicate other problems with your blood vessels, such as potentially deadly cardiovascular disease.

Many men find the subject of erectile dysfunction embarrassing and would prefer to keep their problems under wraps. However, because it could be a sign of a much more serious issue, they would do well to broach the subject with their doctors.

There are several drugs and therapies on the market that can help relieve erectile dysfunctions, as well as several therapies to treat any underlying medical issue.

Preventing Complications
The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction, and other complications of diabetes, is to effectively manage your disease. With diabetes, the first line of defense is maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.

Blood Sugar Monitoring
The normal blood sugar range is between 70 and 100 mg/dl on an empty stomach, and between 100 and 200 after eating. If your levels drop too low, you could experience a hypoglycemic or low blood sugar attack. If your levels get too high, the excess blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and kidneys.

One way to keep track is to take frequent readings with a blood sugar monitor first thing in the morning, around mealtimes and before and after exercising. If you have to monitor your levels often, you might be better off with a continuous monitor—a device that you wear on your body and monitors your blood sugar automatically. Some automatic monitors can also administer insulin, if needed.

You can find manual blood sugar monitors at most drug stores, or through online retailers. If you end up getting a continuous blood glucose monitor from Dexcom or a similar company, you might need to work with your doctor, or a diabetic specialist, to help you set up the machine, especially if it is also designed to automatically administer insulin.

Other Factors
In addition to proper blood sugar monitoring, regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help you manage your condition. The American Diabetic Association has several tips to help you live to the fullest with diabetes.

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