Diabetes in men: what are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men to look out for?

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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a common condition, that can affect a wide range of different people, including people of different cultural backgrounds and ages. Diabetes occurs when a person has high blood glucose, because the body is unable to produce enough insulin. If there is insufficient insulin production, it means that the insulin is unable to help move the glucose from the bloodstream and into the cells to be used for energy.

In diabetes, the symptoms that you experience are related to:

a) the severity of diabetes, i.e. how high your blood glucose levels are,


b) how long you have had the condition, i.e. how long you have high blood glucose levels for.

If diabetes goes undiagnosed, it can lead to a wide range of health conditions. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of diabetes, so if you are experiencing any of them, you can seek treatment early.

What is the most symptom in people with type 2 diabetes?

The most common sign of diabetes is…


That’s right. Nothing. The reason that doctors need to test for diabetes (and people need to demand it), is that most people have no idea that they have it. This regular testing is most important in people at the highest risk of developing diabetes.

What are the other common symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Some early signs that you may have prediabetes or diabetes mellitus, includes:

  • Increased thirst, hunger and urination
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Wounds and cuts that heal slowly
  • Changes in weight

Explore the symptoms of diabetes and symptoms of diabetes in women to learn more about the symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

What else should I look out for as a man?

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus in men are often related to sexual health and function. The below symptoms are severe and may be a hallmark that you have had diabetes for a number of years.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes called impotence, is an inability to achieve or maintain an erection. It’s a common condition in men who have diabetes, and they often experience ED at earlier ages than men who do not have diabetes. Studies have found that 50% of men with diabetes experience ED so it is common even if it is not talked about.

ED can occur due to damage to blood vessels and nerves in the penis. This is because the blood vessels are unable to widen or constrict, to allow blood into and out of the penis. Damage to blood vessels can also slow the flow of blood to the penis, which is another common cause of ED in men with diabetes.

In addition to diabetes, ED can also be a symptom of many other health issues. This includes high blood pressure, kidney disease, and circulatory or nervous system conditions. ED can also be caused by stress, smoking, or medication.

Retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation occurs when the muscles near the bladder fail to contract, resulting in ejaculate ending up in the bladder, rather than exiting the penis. Type 2 diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves that control the bladder and urethra, resulting retrograde ejaculation. Symptoms of retrograde ejaculation include significantly less semen released during ejaculation.

Urologic issues

Nerve damage caused by diabetes, can result in urological issues in men. These types of issues relate to the urinary system and include:

  • Overactive bladder
  • Inability to control urination
  • Urinary tract infections

Decreased sex drive

Loss of sensation, due to nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction can result in sexual dysfunction and decreased sex drive.

What are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in men?

There are a number of risk factors which increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes and increase a persons risks. There are some risk factors that mean you are more likely to develop diabetes. These include:

  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese, particularly extra weight around the waist
  • Being physically inactive
  • Eating a poor diet (one that is high in fat, salt, and sugar)
  • High blood pressure
  • Having signs associated with diabetes like skin tags and dark colouration around the neck and arm pits called acanthosis nigricans
  • Being older (over 55 years of age) – the risk increases as we age
  • Over 45 years of age and being overweight
  • Over 45 years of age and being overweight
  • Ethnic background, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Pacific Islanders, Asian and South East Asian, African Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Hispanics/ Latinos

When to speak to your doctor?

If you experience any of the above symptoms it is important to get tested for diabetes as soon as possible. Some people are at higher risk and need regular testing if you are 45 years or older or have other risk factors for diabetes. By diagnosing and treating the condition early, it means you can decrease the risk of developing any further health complications, for example nerve damage, blindness, and heart disease.

If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes and would like to know more about how best to manage the condition, you can explore our 12 week diabetes program. The first week is free to try and full of useful information to help you.

If you want to learn more about diabetes, we have dedicated information pages:


Click the program that best describes your situation.

Diabetes and Diet Articles - What do I need to know?

Diet, and what you eat, plays an important role in diabetes management. Your diet is also classified as a modifiable risk factor in diabetes. Making changes to your diet can even play an important role in reducing the risk of developing diabetes related complications.

Follow the links below to learn more about diet in diabetes.