The month of June has been designated nationally as Men’s Health Month. The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to increase awareness of preventable health problems among men of all ages. But men’s health shouldn’t be something we only talk about in June. It’s important to continually spread awareness about the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices, making regular visits to the doctor, and getting educated on heart disease and diabetes. Sharing information about testicular cancer and prostate cancer is also important.
One health issue many men experience as they age is slower urination, which can cause concerns. It’s important to find out why this is occurring to determine correct treatment, as well as to help prevent men from becoming victims of false or unproven remedies. There are many scams with products that falsely promise cures for erectile dysfunction or male hormone problems. If you are not sure of the risks or benefits that a product is offering, ask your health care provider.
If you or a loved one begins to experience slower urination, how do you know when it’s time to seek professional medical advice? The following symptoms warrant prompt medical attention:
- Painful or sudden frequent urination
- Progressive loss of the ability to achieve an erection, which could signal that physical changes of blood flow are occurring
- Passing any blood with urination or the inability to urinate
- Rapid loss of the ability to empty the bladder, which can be due to an infection, over-the-counter medication usage or abnormal physical blockage of the urinary pathway
Normal prostate enlargement can also be problematic. If you are getting out of bed more than twice at night to empty your bladder, some prescription medications may help restore a more healthy sleep pattern. It is important to review the known benefits and potential side effects of any prescription medication, so do not be afraid to discuss this with your doctor.
At your annual examination, you should talk with your provider about the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) prostate cancer screening test, which is obtained through a routine blood sample. Recommendations have evolved on when and how often men should be screened, so it’s also helpful to review the current recommendations published by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Urology.
Finally, remember that a heart healthy lifestyle is often a prostate healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips:
- Achieve ideal body weight by cutting your food portion size by 25 percent. This helps to decrease obesity, which is associated with lower testosterone levels.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits (five to nine servings daily), along with more fish, poultry and protein. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products and reduce salt and processed food intake.
- Variable types of physical activity that work all of your large muscle groups improve health without overusing muscles. For instance, complete an upper body workout one day and a lower body workout the next. Keeping your body fit and trim is not only beneficial for overall health improvement, it is also associated with improved male sexual performance.
- Eliminate smoking, which damages small blood vessels and can lead to erectile problems.
- Manage stress better at work and at home. Seek help if you need it.
- Treat sleep apnea, which helps with weight loss efforts and often improves sexual performance.
Finally, take life seriously and be mindful of the positives in life: laugh more, cultivate positive friendships, help others in need while expecting nothing in return, and take care of your body — because it is the only one you will ever have. Love more, live happy, work purposefully, pray and play. Finally, wear blue to remind men of the importance of staying healthy.
Mike Strekall, MD practices the full breadth of family medicine at St. Peter’s Health Medical Group – North Clinic. Clinical areas of interest include women’s health, geriatrics, asthma and allergies. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Carroll College and his medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.