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November 12, 2002

Other Illnesses

Question from Warnham, Horsham West Sussex, United Kingdom:

My 43 year old male partner, who incurred type 1 diabetes at age 11, successfully manages his condition with the assistance of his primary care physician. However, he has a symptom of the illness he does not want to discuss with his primary care provider or specialist due to personal reasons. My partner feels that he has underdeveloped genitals due to the onset of diabetes during puberty. He is specifically interested to know if there is any hormonal treatment which might be beneficial to him at this stage. My understanding is that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Is there any connection between type 1 diabetes and his condition? Could this affect the levels of growth hormone in his body at that time, causing the genitals to not develop normally?

Answer:

Individuals who develop type 1 diabetes during childhood are known to have short stature as a result of having diabetes. This has been shown quite nicely in previous research. However, I am not aware that testicular size has been shown to be preferentially affected by diabetes.

If tour partner had some previous injury or mumps orchitis, these may be additional issues that may have resulted in small testicular size. If his doctor draws blood tests and the FSH is high and the testosterone is low, this would support previous testicular injury. If these laboratory tests are abnormal, he may want to speak to his physician about treatment with testosterone.

JTL