A new study has found that diabetic men over 45 years of age are more than twice as likely as non-diabetic men to have low testosterone, putting them more at risk of sexual dysfunction.
Dr. Sherwyn Schwartz, director of the Diabetes & Glandular Disease Clinic in San Antonio, Texas, says people with diabetes have too often been given the short end of the deal, and this is a common problem that needs to be monitored.
The study screened 2,162 men, with an average age of over 60, and found that half of the 474 men with diabetes also had low testosterone, or hypogonadism.
Low levels of the male hormone are associated with diminished sex drive, erectile dysfunction, higher body fat, reduced muscle mass and decreased bone mineral density as well as depression and fatigue.
Schwartz says this is not the natural course of life in a man who is 45 or 50 years old.
This, say the researchers means that men age 45 and older with diabetes have 2.09 times higher odds of having hypogonadism compared to non-diabetic men.
In the study about 56 percent of men with diabetes and low testosterone reported a decreased ability to perform sexually.
Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, a urologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, says the prevalence rate is astonishing and implies that the management of diabetes demands more than just managing glucose levels.
Bar-Chama says that testosterone levels are checked with a blood test and treatment involves testosterone supplements, which raise the risk of enlarged prostate and cannot be used by men with prostate cancer.
He says the hormone has an impact on numerous medical conditions and does not just affect libido, and men who are treated with testosterone supplements must be carefully monitored so that levels fall within normal ranges and the prostate is not affected, he said.
Dr.Bar-Chama says that long-term data is scant and the sensible approach is to supplement to physiological levels in order to achieve adequate fat distribution, quality of life and sexual function while still being vigilant.
The research was sponsored by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, which sells a testosterone gel called AndroGel.