Doylestown Hospital encourages men to be aware of potential health problems and take early action to fight them. We spoke to Brad Paddock, MD, about what men need to know – and do.
What are the main men's health concerns?
Well, some things apply to everyone throughout their lives, including men. Everyone should exercise, avoid tobacco, see your doctor periodically, and make sure your immunizations stay up to date. Most adults are overdue for Tdap and/or other needed shots.
There are also things that are specific to men. A man can get a hernia at any age. If you notice pain, bulging, or asymmetry in your lower abdomen, groin, or scrotum, see your doctor to be checked for a hernia. Men get coronary artery disease about 10 years younger than women. That risk can be reduced by exercising, avoiding tobacco, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. Tell your doctor if you have chest pain.
What are other health issues specific to men?
Men in the second half of life can also have prostate problems. The prostate is a gland located in a man's lower pelvis. It can become enlarged and impair urination, or become cancerous and impair life expectancy. You should tell your doctor if you have any difficulty urinating.
Also, see your doctor when you turn 50, and annually thereafter, to be screened for prostate cancer. Impotence (erectile dysfunction) can occur in men. When it does, it is important to see your doctor to get tested for various conditions that can cause it.
Why do women find it easier to go to the doctor than men?
Women are taught to go to their doctor annually for a Pap test and pelvic and breast exam, to prevent gynecologic and breast cancers. So they get used to seeing their doctor regularly, and do not think it is a big deal to see a doctor for a checkup or when they have a problem.
Men are not taught to see their doctor regularly throughout their lives. So they get used to going for long periods without doctor visits. Men of every age should see their primary doctor for a physical at least every 5 years, and every year after 50. Getting men to make that change is important.
Why do women live longer than men?
Research shows that women generally live about seven years longer than men. Here are some reasons why:
- Until menopause, women have estrogen, which is protective against heart disease. That is why men get coronary artery disease at a younger age than women.
- Women are more likely than men to ask for help. That includes asking a doctor for help when they have a problem. Men tend to keep their problems to themselves rather than get help, thinking that will show strength. It does not. It causes prolonged suffering and delayed treatment of problems.
What can women do to help the man in their life stay healthy?
Encourage him to communicate. Find out what is going on inside his head. Be familiar with his problems, and be supportive. Encourage him to go to the doctor for periodic checkups and when he has a problem. Support his exercise. If he likes to go to the gym or play sports, encourage it. If not, start exercising with him, such as walking or riding bikes together, and you both will be healthier.
What advice do you have about testosterone replacement therapy?
When something is advertised heavily, like "Low T," it means the company really wants to sell it. It does not mean that you really need to buy it. Testosterone levels fall in some men as they age, become obese, or develop other diseases. In that way, the testosterone level is a measure of a man's overall health. The only way to know if yours is low is to get it measured. If it is low, the best thing to do is correct the underlying problem. For many men that means exercising and losing weight. Then the testosterone level will return to normal naturally.
If the underlying problem cannot be corrected, or if you do not want to exercise, then you can take replacement testosterone as a medication. It may improve weak erections and strengthen weak bones, but it will not fix the underlying problem.
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About Brad Paddock, MD
Brad Paddock, MD, is a graduate of Temple Medical School. He completed his residency at MCP-Hahnemann University and trained at Hahnemann Hospital, MCP Hospital, Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children and Warminster Hospital. He is board certified in Family Medicine. Dr. Paddock is director of the Ivyland Medical Center.
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