Why there is no Gender Neutrality in Diabetes

There are more men with diabetes in India than women. However, most men fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of diabetes until it is too late. It might come as a surprise to many of you that symptoms of diabetes in men and women have subtle differences. Let’s see why men are more prone to diabetes and what symptoms they have to look out for.

How Diabetes Differs in Men and Women

Innate biological differences, and general lifestyle factors play a huge role in getting non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart diseases. Though women with diabetes find it more difficult, diabetes in men is much more prevalent. On the other hand, life expectancy of men with diabetes is lesser than that of women.

Diabetes is not Gender-Neutral!

Though most classic symptoms of diabetes in men and women are the same, there are certain differences when it comes to gender. In fact, many health-related problems vary in men and women as they age with diabetes.

As a metabolic and endocrine disorder, diabetes is characterized by an insufficiency of insulin or resistance to insulin in the body. This leads to type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, a sexual dimorphism is prevalent in diabetes because diabetes is an endocrine disorder and sexual hormones play a vital role in a person’s body metabolism, and body composition. They are even linked to vascular function, and responses to inflammation.

Why diabetes differs varies in men and women:

  • Hormonal activity varies vastly in men and women.
  • Body fat distribution is different in men and women post puberty.
  • Men have more visceral fat and higher levels of fatty acids when compared to women.
  • Women have more subcutaneous and peripheral adipose tissue than men

Takeaway points:

Since men and women have different hormonal activities, body compositions, and fat distribution they have different risk rates for diabetes.

Since men have more visceral fat and higher levels of fatty acids, they are more prone to insulin resistance.

Since men have lower levels of estrogen, they are more prone to insulin resistance.

Symptoms of diabetes in men and women   

It is very important to identify the symptoms of diabetes in men early on as the state of prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes, is also known to cause blood vessel damage.

Though vastly considered benign and reversible, prediabetes like diabetes can cause damage to the small and large blood vessels. Damage to the smaller blood vessels, microvascular damage, is known to cause diabetic retinopathy and diabetic nephropathy. Damage to larger blood vessels, macrovascular damage, is known to be a major factor for getting cardiovascular diseases.

Early signs and symptoms to watch out for in men include:

  • Reduced muscle strength due to muscle mass loss
  • Sexual dysfunction that is caused due to blood vessel and nerve damage
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Recurring urinary tract infections and other urological complications
  • Genital infections and general itching around the genitals

How can men prevent diabetes?

Here are 6 things you as a man can do to prevent diabetes.

  1. If you are overweight, work immediately on reducing weight. A higher BMI is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes
  2. If you have fat accumulation around your abdomen, then it’s a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Adopt a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise in order to reduce abdominal fat
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Try to avoid night shifts. People who are exposed to night work are more likely to have their metabolism disrupted and this increases the chances of type 2 diabetes
  5. If there is type 2 diabetes in your family, it is better to get a diabetes risk assessment every year
  6. Finally, if you are urinating more frequently, or you have increased thirst, consult a doctor for further investigation.