Metabolic Health

Symptoms of Diabetes in Men

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Due to the nature of our work, we spend most of the day engaged in activities that keep us sitting or lying in one position. But, our bodies are not designed to remain stationary for a prolonged time. This has resulted in a growing incidence of lifestyle diseases. And, when you talk about lifestyle diseases, the most common name that comes to your mind is diabetes. Some diabetes symptoms for men may vary significantly from that of women.

According to the findings of the International Diabetes Federation, India presently comprises 77 million individuals with diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes in men has been found to be 11.8% compared to women, which is 9.5%. Mostly, men above the age of 45 with a BMI greater than 32 are prone to type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in men before 30 years of age.

Type 1 and 2 diabetes symptoms for men and women are fairly similar. However, there exist certain signs of diabetes that are more specific to the male population.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms in Men

The risk of type 1 diabetes is found to be 1.5 times higher in males than in females. The predominant signs of type 1 diabetes in men include:

1. Increase in appetite: Insulin resistance causes reduced glucose breakdown. There is a lesser release of energy. As such, the person consumes more food to make up for it.

2. Feeling of drowsiness: A general feeling of lethargy sets in due to constant fluctuations in blood glucose levels.

3. Breathing issues: One of the familiar signs of type 1 diabetes in men is laborious breathing. This is caused by a short-term complication known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The kidneys become overburdened to remove the toxic ketones being formed because of this condition. Consequently, the lungs end up expelling these excess ketones. This causes shortness of breath.

4. Frequent states of near-unconsciousness: High blood sugar levels result in dehydration, and low blood sugar levels deprive the brain of glucose. Both these conditions lead to states of stupor. 

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms in Men

Studies have shown that males are more prone to type 2 diabetes at a lower weight than women. Men tend to store fat around the waist and liver areas. In contrast, women store fat in the thigh and hip regions. Type 2 diabetes is linked with the accumulation of fat in the liver region, making it a greater risk factor in men. The male hormone testosterone, is also linked to the deposition of deep-seated fat in men.

Most of the signs of type 2 diabetes in men are similar to those in women. However, there are certain symptoms that are distinctive in males. These specific type 2 diabetes symptoms in men are discussed below:

1. Low levels of testosterone: Insulin sensitivity decreases testosterone levels, resulting in low sex drive. It is characterised by a reduced energy level and a feeling of fatigue.

2. Erectile dysfunction: Since diabetes affects the autonomic nervous system, it may lead to problems concerning sexual health. Erectile dysfunction or the inability to sustain an erection is one of the common signs of type 2 diabetes in men. 

3. Retrograde ejaculation: Backflow of semen takes place into the bladder instead of passing out through the urethra. This may impair fertility. It happens due to defective blood sugar control, leading to bladder neuropathy.

4. Incontinence and difficulty in bladder control: Urinary tract infections and incontinence are common signs of type 2 diabetes in men. 

5. Genital yeast infections: Yeast feeds on sugar. Since excess sugar passes out through urine for individuals with diabetes, yeast infections may occur in the genital areas. Symptoms include redness, swelling, discomfort and foul odour. 

6. Loss of muscle mass: High blood sugar levels cause auto-digestion of fat, muscle and protein to derive energy. This reduces muscle mass and is the reason for unexplained weight loss.

7. Enlarged prostate: Urinary incontinence is a common symptom associated with the development of an enlarged prostate. 

What are the Risk Factors for Diabetes in Men?

The following factors increase the chances to develop diabetes in men:

  • Obesity
  • Being more than 45 years of age and leading a sedentary lifestyle
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of cardiovascular complications
  • High consumption of alcohol and nicotine
  • Fat storage in the abdominal area

Regular exercises and following a proper diet go a long way in preventing complications in diabetes. 

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Diabetes in men raises many questions: Can diabetes affect men’s fertility? or Is diabetes responsible for losing muscle weight? The answers to these lie in the symptoms and how well they are managed. A suitable diet, regular exercises and cutting down on the risk factors help to control the condition. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any of the symptoms. Early diagnosis is a life-saver in most cases.


1. Can Diabetes affect Fertility in Men?

Yes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can influence men’s fertility. High blood sugar levels damage the sperm DNA, thus lowering the sperm quality. Issues such as retrograde ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, which arise due to diabetes, can lead to infertility in men.

2. What are the Complications of Diabetes in Men?

Low testosterone levels due to diabetes lead to reproductive issues in men, such as erectile dysfunction and genital thrush. It may cause infertility. Damage to the autonomic nervous system causes loss of bladder control. Having an enlarged prostate, as a result of diabetes, increases the chances of prostate cancer. All these complications can be controlled by proper diet, exercise and insulin management.

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