Testosterone Replacement Therapy & Blood Sugar Levels
Posted: July 8, 2022
Testosterone replacement therapy is a common treatment for men with low testosterone levels. Low testosterone can negatively affect your health and life in many ways. For example, lowering libido, causing fatigue, and increasing the risk for metabolic syndrome. Another potential risk for men with low testosterone is unhealthy blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can cause damage throughout the body and may eventually lead to diabetes. Fortunately, research suggests that testosterone replacement therapy may help improve blood sugar levels for men with low testosterone. In this article, we explore the evidence.
Low testosterone can cause many symptoms, including:
- Low sex drive
- Unexplained weight gain
- Loss of muscle mass
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depression, irritability, or anxiety
If you notice these symptoms, reach out to our health providers. We can test your hormone levels and discuss your health to identify and treat underlying causes of your symptoms to help you improve your health and live a more fulfilling life.
How Does Low Testosterone Affect Blood Sugar?
Low testosterone has long been associated with higher blood sugar levels. There have been studies where low testosterone levels were able to predict insulin resistance and the risk for future type 2 diabetes development. This goes to show that there is a link between high blood sugar levels and low testosterone levels. Researchers are still studying why this link exists. However, it’s important for men with suspected hypogonadism (low testosterone levels) to know that they may have a higher risk for high blood sugar levels.
Testosterone is a hormone that plays an essential role in the body. It helps with creating red blood cells, maintaining muscle mass, and many other functions in the body. The association between high blood sugar and low testosterone may also indicate that testosterone levels have an impact on insulin resistance.
Men with low testosterone levels may have a higher risk for insulin resistance. This is where your body doesn’t use insulin as well as it should. With insulin resistance, the body needs more and more insulin to help with glucose (sugar) uptake for your cells. In many cases, the body simply can’t keep up with the extra insulin needs and blood sugar levels remain high.
Deficient testosterone levels are associated with insulin resistance, which means men with low testosterone have an increased risk for high blood sugar levels after eating a meal that can stay high longer than normal.
This is a major issue, as high blood sugar levels can cause damage throughout the body, including in the blood vessels and nerves. Also, chronically high blood sugar often leads to diabetes. Therefore, there are many risks associated with high blood sugar levels linked to low testosterone.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy May Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels
The good news is that studies suggest testosterone replacement therapy may be able to help with high blood sugar levels linked to hypogonadism. Due to the association between testosterone and blood sugar levels, many researchers are looking into the potential effects of testosterone on blood sugar. The results of many of these studies are quite promising for men with low testosterone. Many have found that testosterone may be able to increase insulin sensitivity.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy May Improve A1C Levels
Several studies have looked at testosterone’s effects on blood sugar through A1C levels. A1C is a type of hemoglobin (a protein in your red blood cells) which links itself to sugar in the blood. High A1C levels typically indicate higher blood sugar levels. It’s a common test given to people with suspected diabetes.
In one study, researchers looked at men who took testosterone replacement therapy over seven to eight years. In that time, the men in the study experienced a decrease in A1C levels by nearly 2%. The results showed that the men’s average A1C levels decreased from 7.87% to 5.99% (for reference, normal A1C levels are 5.7% or lower and people with 6.5% or higher are considered diabetic). This is significant, as many diabetes medications typically only lower A1C levels by about 1%.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy Can Decrease Fasting Blood Sugar Levels
Many other studies have found positive improvements from testosterone replacement therapy on fasting blood sugar levels. Fasting blood sugar levels are another common health marker of overall blood sugar and can show doctors what your long-term blood sugar levels look like. Some of the same studies that tested A1C levels also found lower fasting blood sugar levels on tests in men taking testosterone replacement therapy.
One study saw a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels from 146.26 mg/dL to 83.72 mg/dL. Once again, this is a significant change, as levels of 126 mg/dL typically indicate diabetes, while normal levels are below 99 mg/dL. As you can see, this is a huge improvement for the men in the study and the results are promising for men who might suffer health effects from high blood sugar levels linked to low testosterone levels.
How Can Testosterone Injections Improve Blood Sugar?
These studies lead to the interesting question of why testosterone might affect blood sugar levels. Scientists are still studying the mechanisms and finer points of how testosterone affects insulin sensitivity. There are likely many different elements to this relationship between blood sugar and testosterone. However, one piece of the puzzle may be body composition changes related to testosterone levels.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy can Improve Body Composition Linked to Insulin Sensitivity
One major benefit of testosterone replacement therapy for men with low testosterone levels is that it can change body composition. Low testosterone levels are commonly associated with weight gain, abdominal fat, higher body fat percentages, and decreased lean muscle mass in the body. Many men who begin taking testosterone replacement therapy notice their body composition improves with treatment. Many also find that they can lose weight easier after beginning a treatment plan with testosterone injections.
What many people don’t realize is that body composition can have an effect on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels as well. Higher body fat content, higher BMI, and more abdominal fat are all linked to insulin resistance. Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat on average. Therefore, having more muscle mass can lead to lower blood sugar levels. As you can see, low testosterone may cause body composition and weight changes that can lead to negative effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. This may also explain the improvements in blood sugar levels after beginning testosterone replacement therapy.
However, it’s important to note that weight may not be the only factor at play. One 2018 study that looked at insulin sensitivity for men taking testosterone saw improvements in insulin sensitivity regardless of weight or BMI. Therefore, the researchers concluded that testosterone’s effects on blood sugar are likely not only due to body fat and muscle mass changes associated with increasing testosterone to healthy ranges.
Health Care Solutions for Men from Low T Center
Our providers at Low T Center are committed to helping men improve their health. We are proud to offer budget-friendly, convenient, and accessible health care for men. Our number one goal is to help you live a healthier, more satisfying life by helping you improve your health. Our team offers treatment for underlying health conditions like low testosterone, sleep apnea, and diabetes. Take the first step toward a healthier you by making an appointment with our team today!
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.