Type 2 diabetes symptoms: The sign in your genitals that may signal the chronic condition

Type 2 diabetes symptoms may only be discovered during a routine medical check-up with your doctor. The condition affects a person’s blood glucose (sugar) control. A person’s body doesn’t respond to insulin properly and may not produce enough, causing blood glucose levels to become too high.


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It’s important to be able to spot the symptoms yourself, because if you don’t have good control of the condition, it can lead to a number of problems, including kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease and stroke.

So what are the symptoms to look out for? Thrush, a yeast infection which tends to affect warm, moist areas of the body such as the vagina, penis and mouth, is more common in people with diabetes because high sugar levels lead to better conditions for yeast to grow.

A dry mouth with high levels of glucose in the saliva can also make for favourable conditions for thrush.

Diabetes.co.uk explains: “High blood sugar levels is one of the main causes of thrush and so is an weakened immune system, which is also common in people with diabetes.

“Damaged or irritated skin also promotes the growth of thrush.

“Smoking increases the chance of oral thrush and certain oral contraceptives may cause vaginal thrush.”

Symptoms of thrush

Vaginal thrush symptoms include:

  • Soreness and irritation
  • White curd appearance on the skin
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • White vaginal discharge
  • Reddening of the vulva (the outer parts of the vagina)
  • Itching around the vagina (infectious vaginitis)

Oral thrush symptoms include:

  • A nasty or bitter taste
  • Redness or bleeding inside the mouth
  • Creamy white coloured patches (lesions) in the mouth (cheeks, lips, tongue or the back of the mouth)
  • Painful and sore mouth (can include the throat)
  • Cracks at the corners of the lips (angel chelitis)

Symptoms of thrush in men include:

  • Reddening or swelling or soreness of the glans (head) of the penis
  • Itching around the tips of the penis
  • Discharge beneath the foreskin
  • Nasty odour
  • Pain during urination
  • White curd-like appearance on the skin
  • Painful experience during sex


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Thrush isn’t always a sign of type 2 diabetes. it can also occur if you skin is irritated or damaged, you’re taking antibiotics, you have a weakened immune system, you have been through the menopause, of if you’re pregnant.

When to see your GP with thrush

The NHS advises you see a GP or go to a sexual health clinic if:

  • You have the symptoms of thrush for the first time
  • You’re under 16 or over 60
  • Your thrush keeps coming back (more than twice in 6 months)
  • Treatment has not worked
  • You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have thrush and a weakened immune system – for example, because of diabetes, HIV or chemotherapy

Other symptoms of type 2 diabetes to watch out for

Common symptoms of diabetes are listed by Diabetes UK as:

  • Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
  • Being really thirsty
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Genital itching or thrush
  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
  • Blurred vision

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