TRT May Help Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
Posted: October 29, 2020
Many men use testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to help with symptoms of low testosterone. In addition, about one-third of men with low testosterone levels also have type 2 diabetes. New research suggests that TRT may also have positive effects for those with type 2 diabetes and low testosterone levels. Some even achieved remission for their diabetes!
Those who participated in the study and received testosterone injections also had signs of improved glycemic control, increased insulin sensitivity, and several other positive impacts after beginning their testosterone replacement regimen as part of the study. Those who didn’t receive testosterone injections did not see similar results, which suggests that TRT may help with diabetes management if you have both type 2 diabetes and low testosterone levels.
New Research on TRT and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
The study from the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism included men with both type 2 diabetes and low testosterone levels. All the participants received standard treatments for diabetes. About half of them also received TRT injections, while the others didn’t. After 11 years of follow up, the testosterone group experienced several positive effects compared to those who didn’t receive testosterone. The researchers concluded that testosterone replacement therapy may help men who have both hypogonadism and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a condition where your body can’t use glucose normally. Glucose is a sugar that your cells use for energy. The reason your body may not be able to use glucose normally may be because your body doesn’t respond to insulin the same way. Insulin is a hormone produced in your pancreas that helps glucose enter your cells. This can lead to higher than normal blood sugar levels and can have serious effects on your health. Type 2 diabetes can cause symptoms such as increased urination, extreme thirst, and unexplained weight loss. Some complications associated with this condition include kidney damage, cardiovascular conditions, and nerve damage.
Hypogonadism is a condition where you have lower testosterone levels than normal, which may cause many symptoms like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low libido, loss of muscle mass, and mood changes. Many men with hypogonadism also have type 2 diabetes. Some experts believe that low testosterone levels may contribute to insulin resistance and may increase your risk for diabetes, though the link between the two conditions is still a subject of study. Because hypogonadism is associated with diabetes, the researchers in the study set out to learn the potential effects of testosterone replacement injections on patients who had both hypogonadism and type 2 diabetes.
One-Third of the TRT Group Achieved Diabetes Remission
While there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, studies show that some people are able to achieve remission, which means you can keep normal blood sugar levels without using diabetes medications. Some people achieve remission through lifestyle changes and bariatric surgery. However, this recent study is one of the few to show that TRT may help some patients achieve remission with diabetes.
In the study of how TRT affects men with type 2 diabetes, about one-third of the patients in the testosterone group achieved remission. Also, none of the patients experienced a relapse during the 11 year study. By contrast, none of the patients in the non-testosterone group achieved type 2 diabetes remission. The researchers concluded that taking testosterone replacement injections may be associated with higher rates of diabetes remission. However, even those who didn’t achieve remission still on average noticed positive effects for their health.
Participants on TRT Improved their Glycemic Control
Glycemic control is essentially keeping your blood sugar levels within normal, healthy ranges when you have diabetes. This is an important part of diabetes management, as poor glycemic control can lead to serious short- and long-term complications. For example, high blood sugar can lead to headaches, fatigue, kidney damage, nerve damage, and other health complications. Many people struggle with preventing highs and lows as part of their diabetes management plan. However, the study found that TRT may help improve glycemic control.
The researchers looked at glycemic control over time to determine if TRT had an effect. During the study, the group who received testosterone replacement injections had improved glycemic control. Those in the TRT group noticed a steady decline in blood sugar levels, with the majority reaching target blood sugar levels. However, the group who didn’t receive testosterone actually saw gradual increases in blood glucose levels. Therefore, the study suggests that TRT for hypogonadism may help those with type 2 diabetes gain better control of their blood sugar levels, which is an important part of living a healthy life when you have diabetes.
The TRT Group Saw Improvements in Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is how sensitive your body’s cells are to insulin. Higher insulin sensitivity allows your cells to use glucose more efficiently with less insulin. With good insulin sensitivity, the cells in your body are better able to absorb glucose to use for energy, which can decrease the amount of glucose circulating in your blood.
In the study, the researchers looked at both fasting blood glucose levels and fasting insulin concentrations. High fasting blood sugar levels generally indicate insulin resistance. The men in the TRT group saw improvements in fasting blood sugar levels, which gradually decreased and stayed low long-term. By contrast, those who didn’t receive testosterone injections saw a rise in their fasting blood sugar levels.
When it came to fasting insulin concentration levels in the blood, those in the testosterone group saw a gradual decrease in the amount of insulin in their blood, while insulin concentrations in the other group increased during the entire 11 year follow up. The researchers in the study concluded that this was likely due to increasing insulin sensitivity in the TRT group, as blood sugar levels were lower in the testosterone group as well. Therefore, some people with type 2 diabetes may notice improvements in insulin sensitivity when using TRT to treat low testosterone levels.
Signs of Kidney Function in the Testosterone Replacement Group
A common complication of diabetes is kidney disease, as high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys. One way to test for kidney function is called an estimated glomerular filtration test. This test measures the amount of creatinine in your blood. Creatinine is a waste product your kidneys help filter out of your body.
Because of the association between diabetes and poor kidney function, the researchers also looked at kidney function in both groups. The results showed that the TRT group had significant improvements in their estimated glomerular filtration tests. Therefore, the study suggests that testosterone replacement may also help improve kidney function in patients who have type 2 diabetes and low testosterone levels.
Other Positive Effects Found in the Study
In addition to improvements in glycemic control, insulin sensitivity, and kidney function, the researchers also noticed other improvements in the TRT group compared to the group who didn’t receive testosterone injections. For example, during the study, the testosterone group experienced fewer deaths, heart attacks, strokes, and complications from diabetes compared to the group who didn’t receive testosterone therapy.
Also, those in the TRT group decreased their cholesterol levels, body weight, and BMI. Those with diabetes are generally more prone to high cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk for many cardiovascular conditions. Several studies have also suggested that being overweight and having a high BMI can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance. Obesity is also a risk factor for many other serious health issues. The group who didn’t receive testosterone injections gained weight on average. Therefore, testosterone may help with weight and cholesterol management for patients with hypogonadism and type 2 diabetes.
The study also looked at overall quality of life and sexual quality of life in both groups. Those who received TRT also had positive impacts on both overall quality of life and sexual quality of life. However, those who didn’t receive testosterone noticed a decline in both of these areas.
The results of this recent study suggest that TRT may play an important part in overall health management for men who have both low testosterone levels and type 2 diabetes. If you believe you may have low testosterone levels, consider getting a comprehensive health assessment to check your hormone levels.
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