Diabetes affects more than 23 million in the United States, according to American Diabetes Association. There are many complications from this disease, but one that goes largely unreported is low testosterone, which can affect men's' quality of life and ability to father children.
Testosterone is the androgenic hormone mostly responsible for the growth and development of male sex and reproductive organs, which include the penis, testicles, scrotum, prostate, and seminal vesicles. Testosterone production declines naturally with age, but men with diabetes are 50 percent more likely to have testosterone deficiency.
Causes include damage to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or testicles that inhibits hormone secretion and testosterone production. Insufficient testosterone production can lead to abnormalities in muscle and bone development, underdeveloped genitalia, and diminished virility.
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency don't start overnight. They begin gradually and grow in frequency and strength as you age. Here are a few signs:
- A low sex drive and weak erections.
- Chronic fatigue and depression.
- Forgetfulness. Low level of testosterone can result in memory loss.
- A loss in bone density (osteoporosis).
- Loss of strength and muscle mass.
- Fat build up, especially around the stomach and waist area.
Other subtle symptoms of low levels of testosterone include timidity, feeling of weakness and passive attitude.
If you are diabetic, it's a good idea to be tested for your testosterone level even if you're not experiencing any symptoms. If your testosterone levels are too low, there are several treatment options. First try non-medical options:
- Increase your exercise.
- Decrease or eliminate use of alcohol.
- Try to eliminate stress in your life.
- Eat a healthy diet, limiting fat intake.
Under the care of a physician, endocrinologist or urologist, you can undergo testosterone therapy, the most popular of which is a testosterone gel applied daily to the skin. Other forms include skin patches, intramuscular injections and implantable pellets.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times