Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Men

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men are very similar to those of women, except for the genital conditions that appear. Keep reading.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Men

Last update: 16 January, 2023

Diabetes mellitus is a group of chronic metabolic conditions characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Sex, age, and family history are factors that increase the risk of this disease. Are you interested in knowing what the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men are? Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), it’s estimated that more than 62 million people suffer from type 2 diabetes in the Americas. It’s a common condition in men that’s associated with obesity, an unhealthy lifestyle, and unhealthy eating.

Clinical manifestations can take years to appear or present mildly, which often makes early identification difficult.

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men

Type 2 diabetes is closely related to insulin resistance and obesity. Studies estimate that men have up to 2 times the risk of suffering from this type of diabetes due to their tendency to have more abdominal fat.

The clinical manifestations are the result of elevated blood glucose levels and the lack of response of cells to insulin. The three “Ps” of diabetes are classic examples that includes polydipsia, polyuria, and polyphagia.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men are very similar to those in women. Long-term vascular disturbance and nerve damage are part of the course of diabetes. This situation causes damage to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain, eyes, and other parts of the body.

Frequent urination or polyuria

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men include polyuria.
Polyuria can motivate people without a diagnosis to make a medical consult, as it can become somewhat annoying.

Increased frequency with which you go to the bathroom and the amount of urine passed is a common manifestation of diabetes. It’s the result of the elevation of glucose in the blood, increasing the amount of urine that’s filtered in the kidneys. This fact favors a faster bladder filling and the urge to eliminate urine.

Increased thirst or polydipsia

An exaggerated need for fluids is a common symptom of type 2 diabetes in men. It’s usually accompanied by a dry mouth sensation at night or upon waking up. This fact is produced by an increase in the plasma osmolality recognized at the level of the hypothalamus and by the continuous elimination of urine.

Increased appetite or polyphagia

Patients with type 2 diabetes often experience an exaggerated increase in appetite. The insulin resistance of these patients prevents the natural entry of blood glucose into the cells, so there’s less energy production.

For this reason, the body increases the demands for food in order to try to compensate for the nutrient deficiency.

This symptom is usually accompanied by tremors, anxiety, or nervousness between meals, however, it can also appear after long hours without eating. In addition, polyphagia is part of the classic triad of clinical diabetes mellitus, so it’s vital to seek early medical assistance in its presence.

Fatigue and tiredness

Lack of energy in men with type 2 diabetes without an obvious cause is often an early symptom of the disease. Low glucose input to brain and muscle cells promotes central depression and body weakness. Patients often show difficulty concentrating, lifting objects, or an exaggerated desire to sleep.

At the same time, obesity and being overweight in patients with type 2 diabetes are factors that promote tiredness and excessive fatigue. For this reason, it’s important to make lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet and continuous physical exercise.

Darkening of the skin in folds

In patients with diabetes, it’s common to find skin diseases and infections associated with high blood glucose levels. However, acanthosis nigricans is the most prevalent skin symptom of type 2 diabetes in men. In fact, studies estimate an incidence of up to 76% in these patients.

Acanthosis nigricans is a set of thickened dark brown lesions with a central velvety appearance that usually appear at the level of the skin folds. In this regard, they’re frequent in the armpits, neck, groin, and elbows. Obesity and hyperinsulinemia are the main triggers for this symptom.

Low testosterone

Testosterone’s one of the main hormones involved in men’s growth and function. This favors the development and maintenance of muscle mass, bone strengthening, and sperm production.

Some research suggests that testosterone levels are much lower in men with type 2 diabetes than in those who don’t suffer from this disease.

The loss of testosterone is directly related to the course of diabetes. In addition, it’s normal for the levels to decrease in older adults, which worsens the evolution and severity of the disease.

Erectile dysfunction

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men include erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction isn’t only a physical problem, but the emotional discomfort it causes can be even more difficult to overcome.

Erectile dysfunction is a condition characterized by the inability to establish and maintain an adequate erection to achieve a satisfactory sexual relationship. This symptom occurs in most men with type 2 diabetes, being greater in those who don’t keep the disease under control.

Its main cause is alterations in blood vessels and damage to the peripheral nerves. This fact promotes a reduction in the reflexes necessary for erection and a reduction in the vascular supply to the penis. In the long term, erectile dysfunction promotes psychological and social complications, which is why timely medical attention is required.

Decreased libido

In general, diabetes can affect the self-esteem and psyche of affected patients. In this regard, feelings of insecurity, sadness, fear of rejection, and loss of attractiveness develop, which affect sexual relations, generating fear and anxiety in the face of intimate contact.

Similarly, the loss of libido is related to a reduction in testosterone levels. This is the hormone responsible for regulating and stimulating sexual desire in men. For this reason, it’s vital to go to a trained health professional who can tend to your discomfort and offer the best therapeutic approach.

Rare symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men

There are several rare symptoms, which are the result of changes in circulation, nerve pathways, hormones, and immunity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Most of these manifestations take years to appear and are more common in patients in advanced stages of the disease.

Retrograde ejaculation

In some diabetic patients, it’s possible to find disorders in the expulsion of semen. Retrograde ejaculation is generated by a failure in the musculature and genital sphincters that regulate this process. For this reason, some of the semen can be returned to the bladder instead of being expelled through the penis.

Usually, semen trapped in the bladder comes out during urination along with urine. In addition, there are men who don’t achieve ejaculation at all. Evidence of sperm in a urine sample is part of the diagnostic and therapeutic approach.

Loss of muscle mass

Muscle atrophy in diabetic men is associated with a reduction in testosterone levels and a deficiency in glucose input promoted by insulin resistance. This manifestation is favored by being overweight and lack of physical activity.

Genital infections

Depression of the immune system is a common complication in patients with diabetes. Therefore, the ability of the body to combat harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi decreases.

At the same time, hyperglycemia and the imbalance of the microbiota stimulate overgrowth and invasion of agents that inhabit the body.

Candida albicans fungus infection can occur in men with type 2 diabetes. It attaches to the genital mucosa, causing inflammation, irritation, and itching in the area. However, drug treatment offers satisfactory results.

Overactive bladder

Overactive bladder is a condition characterized by involuntary movements of the muscles and bladder sphincters. So, the patient may experience loss of control over this organ.

In this regard, involuntary urination or the need to urinate several times a day usually occur. Nerve damage in men with type 2 diabetes promotes the appearance of this symptom.

Curvature of the penis

People with diabetes are more likely to develop an abnormal curvature of the penis or Peyronie’s disease, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

This fact is characterized by the growth of non-cancerous scar tissue in the penis that generates a curvature when sustaining an erection, which can cause painful intercourse.


Fertility problems in patients with type 2 diabetes are usually the result of erectile dysfunction and retrograde ejaculation. In addition, alterations can also be generated in the sperm that reduce or limit their mobilization to fertilize an egg. It’s important to identify and address the direct cause of the problem with a healthcare professional.

Possible complications

The comorbidities of type 2 diabetes are attributed to tissue damage caused by hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. In the short term, there are conditions that can arise abruptly and be life-threatening.

Hypoglycemic coma, diabetic ketoacidosis, and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar states are the main acute complications of type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, there are diseases that occur after years or decades, which can be accelerated based on lifestyle and control over blood glucose. Among the main chronic complications of type 2 diabetes are the following:

  • Coronary and cerebrovascular diseases
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Diabetic foot and amputation
  • Gastroparesis
  • Oral and periodontal diseases
  • Recurring infections
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s

When to seek medical assistance?

Diabetes mellitus tends to progress slowly, so most symptoms tend to go unnoticed. Excessive thirst, increased appetite, and frequent urination are classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Faced with evidence of these symptoms or any of the above, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Once you’re diagnosed with the disease, your GP can refer you to an endocrinologist. This professional will monitor your condition and initiate the necessary approach to control diabetes.

A disease linked to lifestyle

Type 2 diabetes is now recognized as a lifestyle-related disease. In this regard, it’s important to address the risk factors and habits that condition the development of this pathology.

Abdominal obesity in men promotes the appearance of type 2 diabetes symptoms. For this reason, weight reduction, a healthy diet, and physical exercise are key in preventing complications and sequelae.

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