It’s Men’s Health Week! While we know you’re busy caring for your patients, don’t forget it’s important to take care of your own health.
Dr. Vladimir Avramov, a SolutionHealth primary care provider at Nashua Primary Care, says the top health concerns for men vary with age.
20s and 30s
For men in their twenties, Dr. Avramov says there generally aren’t many age-based health concerns. However, things like drinking, especially binge drinking, can lead to heart and liver disease later in life.
Another pitfall, younger men aren’t as strict about their diets. A lack of fruits and vegetables combined with lots of fast food and processed food can lead to health issues further in life.
“Another big issue I see is many young men don’t go to the doctor until they experience problems, that means small problems go untreated until they become worse and more difficult to treat,” explains Dr. Avramov.
For men ages 18 to their mid-30s, Dr. Avramov warns that testicular cancer can also occur. He says that it’s curable if it’s caught early, so it’s extremely important for men to do monthly self-testicular exams.
Dr. Avramov says men in their 30s and 40s should really step up their game when it comes to preventative care. He says having good habits and prophylaxis during these years can lower the prevalence of disease later on.
From your 40s on, he says it’s important to get screened for heart disease. This means getting triglyceride and cholesterol levels checked at the doctor’s office. Blood pressure screenings should also be started at this point, earlier if symptoms occur.
50s and Up
For men 50 years of age and older, regularly seeing a primary care provider is even more important. Men at this age need to be tested for certain cancers. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in men. Colon cancer is another common type of cancer to watch out for. It’s screened for starting at age 50 by having a colonoscopy at the doctor’s office. Colonoscopies should be routinely performed until 75 years of age.
Other Health Concerns
Men of all ages can also face the problem of low testosterone levels. It’s something that can have varying effects on the body. The most well-known effects are regarding sexual function. “With a decrease in testosterone, men experience reduced desire for sex, lower sperm production, and infertility,” Dr. Amvramov explains. He says it is the most common cause of erectile dysfunction.
Low testosterone levels can also cause an increase in body fat, decreased strength/mass of muscles, fragile bones, decreased body hair, and some effects on cholesterol metabolism. Emotionally, it can cause lower energy levels, insomnia, and even some feelings of sadness or depression.
Your primary care provider can prescribe therapy for low testosterone, but a patient must have low levels of testosterone in their blood and severe symptoms. Your provider may also first want to search for the cause of the low levels.
If you and your primary care provider decide on testosterone replacement therapy, there are a variety of methods including skin patches applied once every 24 hours, topical gels, capsules/tablets, pellets that are implanted under the skin and last three to six months, and injections of various formulations.
“Most men feel an improvement in symptoms within four to six weeks of starting testosterone, although some changes, such as improved muscle mass, may take around three to six months to occur,” Dr. Avramov says.
While low testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction, sometimes there are other factors. If no organic causes can be found, Dr. Avramov says sexual counseling is the best way to address the issue. He says there are a number of treatment options such as medications, urethral suppositories, and external or constriction devices. There is also surgical treatment, but he says that’s considered the last option in current practice.
Dr. Avramov says, “Many patients with erectile dysfunction also have cardiovascular disease, so it is important to check the cause of erectile dysfunction with your primary care provider.”
Advice for Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Dr. Avramov says the key to good health at any age is prevention. He advises men to follow these simple steps:
- Maintain a healthy diet, consisting of many fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
- Stay away from processed foods, fast foods, and foods high in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sugar.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as walking, running, swimming, sports, or mowing the lawn, five days a week.
- Take care of your mental health by paying attention to signs of depression or bipolar disorder.
- Schedule regular visits with your primary care provider. Your primary care provider will do any screenings necessary for your age group, along with immunizations.