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7 Sexual Health Problems Men Must Know About

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By Dr Vilvapathy S Karthikeyan, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai- 14 April 2022, Updated on - 23 July 2022

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Men consider themselves strong and invincible when compared to their female counterparts; however, due to stress, work tension and dangers at the workplace, men are exposed to risks. The population of 65+ years is expected to increase by 2050, and it is high time we started working towards men’s health. There is no actual retirement for men from family commitments and continuing to be healthy is mandatory.

June is celebrated as “Men’s Health Month” every year, in an attempt to improve the alertness among men about nurturing their own health. Men’s health includes creating awareness about men’s problems in their minds, optimizing treatment of their medical conditions, inculcating lifestyle changes and improving the overall well-being of men. We Indians are more prone to abdominal obesity (abdominal circumference >90 cm) and obesity reduction is an important aspect of men’s health to trim down obesity-related complications. 

The social stigma associated with men’s sexual health

Men try to neglect their health and postpone preventive health checks till it becomes absolutely necessary to do so. Only 12% of men visit a doctor for health checks while 33% of women do so excluding pregnancy-related visits. As per a survey by the Cleveland Clinic (Ohio, USA), it was seen that 65% of men wanted to avoid going to the doctor. It is worrisome to note that the life expectancy of men is on an average 3-5 years less than that of women in India and it goes up to even 7 years in some states. 

“A stitch in time saves nine.” Men should realize that erectile dysfunction can be a warning sign of future heart disease, which could happen 3-5 years later. Most men are hesitant to contact an andrologist for their erection problems and many patients are not even aware that they should meet an andrologist for this problem. Blood flowing into the penis produces an erection and erectile dysfunction sets in earlier than heart disease or stroke because the smaller blood vessels in the penis (2 mm) get blocked before that of the heart (4 mm) and brain (6 mm). Treatment of erectile dysfunction by itself can identify or help postpone a serious heart-related event. 

Which sexual health problems are common in men?

Few diseases specific to men include:

  1. Male infertility (inability to conceive – due to problems in the male partner, especially related to sperms)
  2. Erectile dysfunction
  3. Premature ejaculation
  4. Curving of the penis
  5. Low testosterone (reduced male hormone levels)
  6. Prostate enlargement with urinary symptoms
  7. Cancers of testis and prostate

Osteoporosis (weakening of bones) also sets in with ageing, which can lead to fragility fractures.

Recommended reading: Sexual Health: Don’t be Shy to Talk About It

Whom should men consult?

Andrology and Men’s Health is a speciality that exclusively deals with men’s problems. The gynaecologists are often the first point of contact for any problem in women. Men’s health experts are expected to be the “go-to” doctors for men. 

Who is at risk for sexual health problems?

Men are genetically predisposed to have lower immunity due to the Y-chromosome. However, factors that may increase the risk include:

  • Smoking
  • Substance abuse 
  • Excessive alcohol 

How to ensure complete wellbeing?

Men should know the ways to lead a healthy lifestyle and understand the importance of diet and exercise. 

  • Aerobic exercise of a minimum of 150 minutes per week.
  • Limiting saturated fats in the diet, processed and fast food.
  • Conscious reduction of salt and sugar.
  • Increasing intake of fruits, fibre rich diet and pulses.
  • Good night’s sleep of at least 7 hours.
  • An active attempt to reduce stress. 
  • Adequate sunlight exposure to improve muscle and bone strength and to prevent ageing-related fractures.

Takeaway

Men should start looking beyond normal living and focus on healthy living. Healthy living is based on the four pillars - appropriate diet, lifestyle changes and exercise, de-stress and good sleep. Andrologists are doctors who treat sperm problems, and erectile dysfunction and help in improving the overall health of men. Please spread the message among your friends and let us create a healthier society. There are a lot of resources online available. A men’s health check can endow with an opportunity to clarify doubts and identify problems earlier. 

About the Author:

Dr Vilvapathy S Karthikeyan is a Microsurgical Andrologist practising at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai as a Consultant Lead for Andrology. He possesses vast experience in areas such as male infertility (inability to father children), erectile dysfunction, disorders of ejaculation, low testosterone and men’s health evaluation. He has been published in multiple nations and international journals of repute and he is also a gold medalist in Urology and MBBS. 

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