TESTOSTERONE ∙ 3 minute read

What’s the relationship between diabetes and low testosterone?

By Joe Young | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides

Health conditions often have a knock-on effect - diabetics are more likely to suffer from heart disease, loss of eyesight, and kidney failure. But what about low testosterone?

Let’s take a look. 

Low testosterone and diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is related to obesity, insulin resistance, and impaired glucose control. If you have the condition, you’re twice as likely to have low testosterone. And it's a two-way street - low testosterone levels increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body has an insufficient supply of insulin rather than a resistance to insulin, there's no proven link to low testosterone levels. In a study, patients with type 1 actually showed higher testosterone levels than the general population. 

How can I boost my levels of testosterone if I have diabetes?

There are ways of maintaining normal levels of testosterone whilst also benefiting type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

1. Blood sugar control

Studies suggest that low testosterone corresponds with higher insulin resistance in males. So if you have low testosterone levels and diabetes, you’re prone to blood sugar rising after a meal which is harder to get down compared to someone with normal testosterone.

Managing blood sugar levels is critical for all diabetics, so you must be careful with lifestyle and medication to get it under control.  

2. Diet

Foods like leafy green vegetables are beneficial for blood sugar levels and may increase testosterone.  Fatty fish and fish oil are also good for blood sugar levels as they have little carbohydrates.

The pharmaceutical herb, ashwagandha, has some evidence for boosting testosterone. There’s also growing evidence to suggest that it may play a role in helping to manage diabetes by lowering blood glucose.

3. Lifestyle changes

High-intensity exercise and strength training increases testosterone levels and improves insulin sensitivity - the ideal way to put type 2 diabetes into remission and control blood sugars for a type 1 diabetic. 

We know it’s easy to say and hard to put into action, but lowering stress is also helpful for both diabetes and low testosterone. The stress hormone cortisol has been shown to block testosterone from working, whilst stress can cause sugar levels to rise. There are plenty of ways to beat stress. But if you can’t think of anything, try something new. 

4. Testosterone treatment

During a study, 356 men with low testosterone and type 2 diabetes were followed for 11 years. All patients received standard diabetes treatment while half received testosterone treatment.

The results were conclusive: 34% of patients treated for testosterone put their diabetes into remission whilst 47% achieved normal glucose regulation. An important measure for diabetics, HbA1c, had significant results whilst there were fewer deaths, strokes, and diabetic complications. No remission or reductions in glucose or HbA1c levels were found in the control group. 

And this isn’t the only proof - a more extensive study of 19,022 people showed similar results, with testosterone treatment for 2 years reducing the proportion of participants with type 2 diabetes. 

The numan take 

Some of the worst things come in pairs - oil and water, alcohol and texting, and last but not least, diabetes and low testosterone.

Don’t let them get the better of you. Fight on all fronts to beat both.