Diabetes’ impact on a man’s urological health

The prevalence of diabetes shows no signs of slowing down.  Currently, the CDC estimates that approximately 34.2 million people of all ages – 10.5% of the U.S. population – have diabetes. And a good portion of them are men likely to experience urological issues due to this disease.

Here’s the problem of men diagnosed with diabetes. Men are almost twice as likely as women to develop type 2 diabetes. Men are not as proactive of their health as women or they tend to ignore health symptom warnings until they absolutely have to go see a doctor. And if the health issue is diagnosed as diabetes, they may already have serious issues affecting their urological health.

While diabetes is a disease that can affect people from head to toe, for men, it’s often their urological health that may suffer. Men, who’ve had uncontrolled diabetes for awhile, can develop serious health complications making it a quality of life issue. These issues can include both sexual and urological problems especially if men have the following conditions:

  • High blood sugar levels above the normal range
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Men who smoke
  • Being overweight to obese
  • Older than 40 years of age
  • Physically inactive
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too many alcoholic beverages

Diabetes, men and urological health

Diabetes can have harmful effects on all body systems, including urological health. The disease of diabetes is when blood glucose levels are elevated higher than normal. Glucose is the body’s main fuel sources, derived from foods that contain carbohydrates that break down into the sugar we call glucose. Glucose from carbohydrate foods will enter into the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, is responsible for moving glucose from the blood into the body’s cells.

For people with diabetes, either their pancreas is making insufficient (type 2 diabetes) insulin or no insulin (type 1 diabetes) whatsoever. Whether diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it means glucose is unable to go from the bloodstream into the body’s cells and therefore, continues to rise overtime. High blood glucose levels circulating in the bloodstream can significantly damage small blood vessels throughout the body possibly leading to serious complications such as blindness, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, neuropathy, and can affect urological issues.

 How diabetes affects urological health

For men with diabetes, urological issues can become problematic. Blood vessels and nerves become damaged by the effects of high blood glucose leading to sexual and bladder issues.

Here’s a look at various urological health issues men with diabetes may face:

  • Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction or ED is the inability for a man to get or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse. More than half of all men with diabetes will have ED. In fact, men with diabetes are more than 3 times more likely to develop ED than men undiagnosed with diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes can cause nerve damage and circulatory problems affecting a man’s ability to get an erection.

  • Retrograde ejaculation

Not as common as ED, retrograde ejaculation may be a symptom of poorly managed diabetes. Retrograde ejaculation is when part of all of a man’s semen goes into the bladder instead of out of the penis during ejaculation. When this happens, the semen enters the bladder, mixes with urine, and is then urinated out of the body.

  • Peyronie’s disease

Men with diabetes have a 7% higher incidence of a penile curvature called Peyronie’s disease.  Peyronie’s disease is when scar tissue called plaque, builds up in the penis making it curve when erect. Having a curve will make sexual intercourse difficult and painful.

  • Low testosterone

Men’s testosterone levels naturally reduce as they age. Men with diabetes, especially if overweight or older, are more likely to have low testosterone or “low T.” Low T can cause symptoms such as excessive tiredness, depression, loss of muscle mass, or having a low sex drive. It’s important for men to discuss this problem with their doctor as low T can be treated with testosterone therapy using a prescription gel, injection or patch.

  • Fertility problems

Some studies have shown that men with diabetes can have problems with their sperm making it harder to conceive. The sperm may be moving slower or not moving well, making it more difficult to fertilize a woman’s egg. Working with a health care professional trained in fertility issues can help.

  • Urinary issues

The damage diabetes does to nerves leading to the urinary tract, can cause various urinary issues starting with urinary incontinence. Leaking urine unexpectedly is a fairly frequent event for men with uncontrolled diabetes. High blood glucose levels, nerve damage, and obesity, all contribute to incontinence that can be embarrassing if it happens out in public. Men may also have the added burden of both urinary incontinence due to diabetes and benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate gland) causing urinary issues.

  • Bladder infections

Men with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing a urinary tract infection, also called a bladder infection or cystitis. Frequent, urgent, or painful urination are signs of this condition and if not treated properly, it can lead to a kidney infection.

How to treat and prevent urological issues due to diabetes

To prevent nerve damage and other diabetes problems that can lead to sexual and bladder problems, it’s vital men work with their healthcare team to learn steps on preventing and treating these problems before they become worse.

Here are steps men can take to keep their diabetes better managed keeping their urological health preserved:

  • Keep blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels close to target numbers
  • Be physically active everyday
  • Reach and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Quit smoking if you smoke
  • Reduce stress by getting help for emotional or psychological problems
  • Work with a registered dietitian on creating a healthy food plan to control blood glucose levels
  • Take all medications prescribed for diabetes on a regular basis
  • Monitor blood glucose daily with a blood glucose meter or using a continuous glucose monitor
Dr. David Samadi | Robotic Prostate Surgeon


ProstateCancer911.com is a resource created by Dr. David Samadi in order to raise awareness and get more men to receive prostate cancer treatment. The information is strictly general and you should always discuss with your doctor issues concerning your health.


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