Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Men

Type 2 diabetes, which is more commonly found in men than women, is frequently the result of increased insulin resistance associated with weight gain, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet.

Research shows that men are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes due to a higher likelihood of having belly fat, which is associated with insulin resistance. Oftentimes type 2 diabetes affects men during the most productive years of their life, ages 35–54, and at lower body mass index (BMI) levels than women.

If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious medical complications, such as erectile dysfunction, retrograde ejaculation, low sexual libido, heart disease, problems with nerves, eyes, and kidneys, and loss of muscle mass.

man checking blood sugar

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Frequent Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Men

Diabetes is a condition in which the body either produces too little insulin or none at all, or becomes resistant to insulin.

Insulin shuttles glucose from the blood to your vital tissues. If your body does not produce or use insulin properly, glucose does not reach your cells to be used for energy.

Chronically high blood sugar levels can damage nerves, blood vessels, and vital organs. Men and women experience many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Numbness and tingling of the hands and/or feet
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow wound healing
  • Nausea
  • Skin infections
  • Darkening of skin in areas of body creases (acanthosis nigricans)
  • Breath odor that is fruity, sweet, or an acetone odor

Testosterone levels and the propagation of type 2 diabetes go hand in hand.

Research has shown that there is a link between low testosterone and the development of type 2 diabetes in men, with lower testosterone levels leading to a greater risk.

There is a higher prevalence of low testosterone levels in men with type 2 diabetes than in men without it. Furthermore, while men tend to have significantly higher levels of testosterone than women, men tend to lose testosterone at a greater rate, putting them at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

To make matters worse, nerve damage and damage to the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in general can lead to additional symptoms, such as:

Rare Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Men

One-third of U.S. men over the age of 65 have diabetes. This group is also more likely to have low testosterone levels, which puts them at greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Not surprisingly, this group is more likely to experience rare symptoms of diabetes like:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Genital thrush
  • Overactive bladder

Uncontrolled blood sugar in men has wide-ranging effects. In the early stages of diabetes, few, if any, symptoms are felt, but rare complications can develop over time.

If your blood sugar levels are consistently high, your body may break down muscle and fat for energy, leading to a noticeable loss in muscle mass. Excess blood sugar is eventually excreted in the urine, which increases your risk of developing genital thrush, a yeast infection.

Nerve damage and vascular damage from glucose breaking down nerve fibers can lead to erectile dysfunction or urological issues such as a loss of bladder control.

Talking About Erectile Dysfunction

Many men may find it difficult to discuss low libido and erectile dysfunction with a healthcare professional. Even worse, these symptoms can be further exacerbated by stress and anxiety. Fortunately, medication and lifestyle changes can greatly improve these symptoms.


Complications of type 2 diabetes in men usually are due to uncontrolled regulation of blood sugar. This can happen as a result of poor diet, lack of exercise, or difficulty with medication compliance. In most cases, it is a combination of all three.

If you are having difficulty regulating your blood sugar levels, you may want to see a diabetes counselor, a primary care healthcare provider, or another healthcare professional who specializes in diabetes management.

Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to:

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may want to seek immediate medical attention, as early diagnosis and treatment are key to mitigating the impact of type 2 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • More frequent urination, especially at night
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss 
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness and tingling of the hand or feet
  • Losing feeling in the feet
  • Poor wound healing 

Once you are diagnosed and your symptoms are managed, your healthcare provider may refer you to an endocrinologist, who specializes in diabetes care and will help you learn more about type 2 diabetes and how to manage it.

Endocrinologists often work as a team with other diabetes specialists—nurse practitioners, dieticians, pharmacists, educators, and exercise physiologists—who help address every aspect of diabetes, which can be a very complicated problem to manage.

Seek Emergency Help If...

If you have diabetes and experience symptoms such as severe headache, chest pain, or trouble breathing, you may be having a heart attack or stroke, which requires immediate medical attention.

A Word From Verywell

Men are more likely to have visceral fat around the belly that increases insulin resistance and leads to diabetes. Fortunately, studies show that moderate weight loss can stave off diabetes. Shedding 10% of your total body weight through exercise and healthy eating, in fact, has been shown to decrease insulin resistance and improve glucose metabolism, underscoring the importance of lifestyle modifications.

The key response to the aging, overweight man with type 2 diabetes—especially in those over the age of 65 and with low testosterone levels—is the implementation of lifestyle measures such as weight loss and exercise that can raise testosterone levels and provides multiple health benefits. 

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nordström* A, Hadrévi J, Olsson T, Franks PW, Nordström P. Higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes in men than in women is associated with differences in visceral fat massThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2016;101(10):3740-3746. doi:10.1210/jc.2016-1915

  2. Yao Q, Wang B, An X, Zhang J, Ding L. Testosterone level and risk of type 2 diabetes in men: a systematic review and meta-analysisEndocrine Connections. 2018;7(1):220-231. doi:10.1530/EC-17-0253

  3. Grossmann M. Low testosterone in men with type 2 diabetes: significance and treatment. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Aug;96(8):2341-53. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-0118

  4. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes in men.

By Shamard Charles, MD, MPH
Shamard Charles, MD, MPH is a public health physician and journalist. He has held positions with major news networks like NBC reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.