A person wears a medical glove and holds a test tube labeled, "Testosterone Test."
A low testosterone level doesn’t necessarily merit hormone replacement therapy. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

A recent study has linked low testosterone to Type 2 diabetes, but it doesn’t mean men with low levels of the hormone should rush to therapy.

The research only indicates a relationship between the two conditions—it does not conclude one problem causes the other.

The study, featured in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, evaluated data on 5,350 men ages 30 to 70.

The researchers believe that low testosterone levels and Type 2 diabetes are risk markers, said Hector Pimentel, MD, a urologist at Spectrum Health.

“If you have one, you’re likely to have the other,” Dr. Pimentel said.

As researchers continue to make strides in the study of these diseases, their findings will inevitably help men make better decisions about their lifestyle and health care.

This in mind, here are 5 things men should know about low testosterone:

1. Linked to obesity

Having low testosterone or diabetes does not mean men will automatically develop one or the other. But the common factor between these two conditions is obesity, according to Dr. Pimentel.

An obese man is more likely to have a lower testosterone level, as well as facing all the problems associated with diabetes. Men with diabetes face numerous health risks, including everything from kidney disease to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and eye problems.

2. Linked to low libido

Low testosterone levels can cause severe problems that aren’t necessarily related to diabetes.

For example, low testosterone lessens the desire for sexual intimacy. In those cases, hormone therapy may be advisable, Dr. Pimentel said.

3. Linked to low energy

The more common side effects of low testosterone are low energy levels and a reduced tolerance for exercise.

But these symptoms may also result from lack of sleep, poor eating habits and an unhealthy lifestyle, Dr. Pimentel said.

Consequently, you may be able to solve your hormone problem by getting more rest, improving your diet and changing your lifestyle.

4. Complicates weight loss  

Men with diabetes and low testosterone levels will find it more difficult to lose weight.

Because low testosterone levels mean less energy, it can be a vicious cycle, Dr. Pimentel said. The more you try to lose weight, the harder it becomes.

5. More dangerous? Diabetes    

Generally, low testosterone is not nearly as dangerous to a person’s health as diabetes.

For most people, a slightly drop in testosterone will tend to cause minimal long-term problems, Dr. Pimentel said.

Some people, however, can indeed benefit from hormone treatments.

“It’s up to the person to work with his primary care provider,” the doctor said. “If treatments for low energy aren’t working, then it’s very reasonable to explore other possible causes … such as low testosterone.”