Men live 5-7 years less than women and often have poorer health than their female counterparts. This may be due to many factors but certainly one is that men seek out preventive healthcare much less often than women. This blog is intended to give you an overview of the unique healthcare problems of men and what women can do to help their men lead happier and healthier lives.
ED is a common condition that affects as many as 30 million American men. Most men are uncomfortable discussing their sexual problems with either their partners or their healthcare providers. As a result men feel embarrassed and women often feel that the man in their life doesn’t find them attractive.
About 70% of the time, ED is caused by an underlying health problem, most often diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or heart disease. The remaining 30% of men suffer from ED caused by stress, anxiety, depression, the side effects of medication, or drug and alcohol abuse.
In most cases, ED is treatable, which means that it doesn’t have to be a natural or inevitable part of growing older. Treatments include drug therapy (Cialis, Levitra, or Viagra) vacuum devices, injections, or penile implants. If your partner is suffering from ED, encourage him to seek medical care as certainly this condition can be effectively treated.
Testosterone is one of the most important hormones for the normal growth and development of male sex and reproductive organs. It is responsible for the development of male characteristics such as body and facial hair, muscle growth and strength, and deep voice.
Men’s testosterone levels naturally decrease as men age. But if the levels drop below the normal range, some uncomfortable and often distressing symptoms may develop, including:
Decreased libido or sex drive
Importance or ED
Fatigue or loss of energy
Loss of muscle mass
As many as 10 million men suffer from low testosterone (low T) but only 5% are being treated.
The diagnosis is made with a simple blood test that measures the blood level of testosterone. If the T level is decreased and the man has symptoms of low T, then replacement therapy with injections, topical gels, or pellets can be prescribed.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that manufactures fluid for semen. It is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra or the tube that transports urine from the bladder through the penis to the outside of the body.
Prostatitis is a condition often caused by a bacterial infection or an inflammatory response similar to that seen with allergies and asthma. Symptoms may include a discharge, discomfort, pain in the area underneath the scrotum or testicles, frequent urination, and burning with urination. Treatment usually consists of medication and medications t decrease the inflammatory response in the prostate gland.
Benign prostate gland enlargement affects most men after age 50. The symptoms consist of frequent urination, getting up at night to urinate, and a decrease in the force and the caliber of the urine stream. Treatment consists of oral medication to reduce the size of the prostate gland, or medication that can relax the prostate and improve the urine flow. Now there are minimally invasive treatments such as microwaves, lasers, and even a new treatment, UroLift, that pins open the prostate gland in a 15 minute procedure in an outpatient setting.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Nearly 240,000 new cases are diagnosed every year and causes 30,000 deaths each year making it the second most common cause of death due to cancer in men. The diagnosis is made by a digital rectal exam and a blood test, PSA test. If prostate cancer is caught early, it is often curable and nearly always treatable.
In the early stages, prostate cancer usually causes NO symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, so do the symptoms such as hip or back pain, difficulty with urination, painful or burning on urination or blood in the urine.
Every man should consider a baseline PSA test and a digital rectal examination at age 40. Additionally, African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer see a physician annually beginning at age 40.
Treatment options for prostate cancer include surgical removal of the prostate gland, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or cryosurgery. Some men with localized, low risk prostate cancer might select active surveillance or watchful waiting which closes monitors the cancer to see if it progresses or becomes aggressive. If the cancer progresses, then treatment is usually instituted.
Cancer of the testicle is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15-35. Although, there is nothing to prevent testicular cancer, if the cancer is diagnosed early, there is a high cure rate. Early detection is the key to success.
Symptoms of testicle cancer include:
Lumps or enlargement of either testicle
A feeling of pulling or unusual weight in the scrotum
Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum
Dull ache in the lower abdomen
Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
The best way to diagnose testicle cancer is be doing a testicle self-examination. Men\boys should examine themselves once a month just as women are recommended to do a monthly breast self examination. If a man experiences a lump or bump on the testicle or in the scrotum, contact your physician as soon as possible.
So what do I recommend?
In your 20s
A physical examination every three years
Check blood pressure every year
Screening for cancers of the thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth, and skin every three years
Cholesterol test every three years
Testicular self-exam every month
In your 30s
All of the above and a physical exam every two years
In your 40s
A physical exam every two years
A PSA test and a digital rectal exam if you are in a high-risk group
A stool test for colon and rectal cancer every year
At age 50 and above
A colonoscopy every 5 years or as recommended by your physician
A PSA and digital rectal exam every year
Bottom Line: Women can be so helpful in guiding men to good health. If you love your man, encourage him to follow these guidelines.
In the next blog we will discuss what men need to know about women’s health.