Prevention and Wellness

Men’s Health

Premier Physician Network physicians answer Frequently Asked Questions about Men’s Health.

Answers to Common Men’s Health Questions

What are the Biggest Health Threats to Men?

If you take better care of your car than you do yourself, you’re probably a guy. But not taking care of your health can cause problems in the long run.

Some common health threats for men are:

  • Heart disease - One in three adult men has some form cardiovascular disease, according the American Heart Association. High cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and extra weight are some risk factors that can cause heart disease, which damages your arteries.
  • High blood pressure - While high blood pressure (hypertension) doesn’t usually cause symptoms, it causes heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and other health problems.
  • Diabetes - If you have the most common type of diabetes—type 2—your body has higher-than-normal blood glucose (sugar) levels because it can’t use insulin correctly. Untreated diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney damage and more.
  • High cholesterol - High levels of bad cholesterol in your blood form plaque that builds up in the walls of your arteries, narrowing the opening for blood to flow. Over time, this can cause heart attack or stroke.

If you—or the man in your life—aren’t a fan of the doctor, think of regular check-ups much like a car tune-up: they may keep things running smoothly and prevent future problems.

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How Can Men Improve Prostate Health?

As a man, it’s important to protect your prostate. That means knowing about potential problems with your prostate health, such as:

  • Prostate cancer
    • The most common cancer among men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • Doesn’t always have early symptoms. Tests—prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing and core needle biopsy - may provide more information about a cancerous tumor. 
    • Help improve your prostate health and possibly reduce your risk of prostate cancer by eating healthy, exercising regularly and not smoking, according to the National Cancer Institute.
     
  • BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy)
    • Also known as enlarged prostate.
    • Makes it harder for urine to flow and makes you need to urinate more often.
    • Symptoms include straining during urination, a weak urine stream and feeling like your bladder isn’t empty.
    • Depending on the size of your enlarged prostate, your doctor may recommend that you wait for symptoms to pass, take medicines, or try other non-surgical procedures or surgery.
     
  • Prostatitis
    • Inflammation of the prostate gland causes it to become swollen and painful.
    • May be caused by infection and tightening of the pelvic muscles or reflux of urine into prostate gland.
    • You may have burning during urination, pressure or pain in genitals, fever, chills and possible sickness.
    • Infection can be treated with medicines.

If you have prostate symptoms or concerns, talk with your doctor about the best treatment or solution for you.

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What is Low Testosterone and its Symptoms?

It’s nearly impossible to watch a sports program on TV without seeing commercials telling men low testosterone may be the reason they’re feeling tired or run down. But what is low testosterone? And how do you know if your testosterone levels are low?

Testosterone is the main male sex hormone, which helps the body create and maintain adult male features, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As men get older, they produce less testosterone. If your testosterone levels are low, sex drive, physical features and mood all can be affected, according to the NIH. About five million American men are affected by low testosterone.

Low testosterone in men is called andropause. Think of it as menopause in women—only testosterone levels decrease much more gradually than estrogen levels do in women.

According to the NIH, symptoms of low testosterone can include:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction
  • Lowered sperm count
  • Increased breast size
  • Hot flashes
  • Being more irritable than usual

Extremely low testosterone may cause you to lose body hair and muscle, according to the NIH.

Talk to your doctor to find out more about symptoms of low testosterone and what to do if you have low levels.

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How Can Low Testosterone Affect Your Health?

If you’re a man with low testosterone—the hormone that helps your body produce and maintain adult male features—you may notice changes in your physical and emotional health.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), low testosterone can have physical effects that include:

  • Lower sex drive
  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction
  • Lower sperm count
  • Reduced body mass
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased breast size
  • Hot flashes

Low testosterone can affect your mental health, too, causing:

  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Depression

If you think you might have low testosterone or have questions about how low testosterone could affect you, talk with your doctor.

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Can Low Testosterone Lead to Other Health Problems?

Low testosterone is common in men—but you may not know you have it because symptoms are similar to other health conditions, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). And if you do have low testosterone that’s not diagnosed and not treated, you may develop other health problems, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Problems with erections (erectile dysfunction) are one of the most common symptoms of low testosterone. Your body uses testosterone to help produce sperm cells. It also keeps you interested in sex, according to the NIH.

Extremely low testosterone, according to the NIH, can also cause other health problems, including:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Osteoporosis, with bones that are more prone to fracture; this is known as secondary osteoporosis—when bone mass loss is caused by medicine, lifestyle behavior or disease
  • Insulin resistance - men with diabetes are more likely to have low testosterone and more often have insulin resistance (when you need to produce more insulin to keep blood sugar normal)

Talk with your doctor if you have questions about how your health may be affected by low testosterone.

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How Much Belly Fat for Men is Too Much?

When it comes to waistlines, most guys admit they’ve gone up a notch or two on the belt. But too much belly fat may mean more than just a new pants size. It can be a health issue, too.

Men who have too much belly (visceral) fat may have a greater risk of serious health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and more.

To see if you have too much belly fat, measure your waist size. Place the tape measure around your bare belly, just above you hipbone. Exhale and relax before taking the measurement, and make sure the tape is snug and level all the way around, according to The Mayo Clinic.

For most men, risk factors for other diseases and health conditions increase with a waist bigger than 40 inches.

While measurements that compare your hip and waist circumference and compare your weight and height can be more accurate, a waist measurement can give you a good start about your amount of belly fat.

Ask your doctor how to measure your belly fat or how you can lose weight to lower your waist measurement and health risks.

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What Diseases are Linked to More Belly Fat in Men?

The bigger your belly, the bigger your risk of being affected by certain health conditions. At least, that’s what some studies are showing: that there’s a link between a large waist and a higher risk of death, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

There are two types of belly fat, according to the AARP. Subcutaneous fat is the kind you can see and pinch. Visceral fat, which surrounds your abdominal organs, is a health hazard.

If you’re a man with extra belly fat, you’re more likely to be affected by diseases and health conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Colon, rectal, pancreatic and endometrial cancers
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

Talk with your doctor if you’re worried about your belly fat and would like tips on trimming your waist.

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What are Warning Signs of Stress or Depression in Men?

Are you tired and irritable lately? Have you lost interest in work, your family, or hobbies? Have you felt this way for weeks or months?

If so, you may have depression. And as a man, you may not seek help.

Men—and those who love them—should recognize warning signs of stress and depression so they can work to take care of issues and keep them from becoming bigger problems. 

Recognize and Cope with Stress

Stress may be causing you to have physical symptoms, such as:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Tense muscles
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Tense stomach

Long-term signs of stress:

  • Frequent cold or flu
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Skin problems
  • Digestion problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Negative thoughts
  • Speech problems
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Poor eating
  • Being accident prone
  • Aggression

You may be able to better cope with stress when you:

  • Identify the stress and what’s causing it
  • Live a healthy lifestyle: get plenty of sleep, eat right and exercise.
  • Respond positively to stress by managing things you can change and letting go of the things you can’t control
  • Relax and slow down

If you’re depressed, that can actually be a sign of long-term stress. Watch for these signs of depression:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Too much sleep
  • Change in appetite
  • Headaches, stomachaches, other aches and pains
  • Lack of energy
  • Nervous, jumpy feelings
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering and making decisions

If you’re having signs of stress or depression, talk with your doctor about what can help. 

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How Can Men Manage Stress?

You know stress can affect your health. And if you’re like most men, your life is filled with work and family responsibilities that can add to your stress level.

You may be stressed because you’re looking for your car keys or looking for a new job. Whatever is causing your stress, you need to find healthy ways to better manage it to keep it under control. Try these tips:

  • Exercise
  • Eat right
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take a deep breath
  • Set limits
  • Prioritize
  • Do something fun and/or funny
  • Look on the bright side
  • Talk it out with friends, family or an advisor
  • Join a support group
  • Seek professional help

Ask your doctor about other healthy ways to help manage stress in your life.

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What Will my Doctor and I Discuss During a Well Visit?

If you’re like most men, you may not see your doctor as often as you should. Still, it’s a good idea to have a well-check visit every year to help keep yourself as healthy as possible.

When you go to your annual well-check visit, you can expect your doctor to talk with you about you're your health in general and specific health issues for men, like:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Immunizations
  • Prostate health
  • Weight

Depending on your age and health history, your doctor may also talk with you about lowering your risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more, and any health screenings you may need.

If you haven’t scheduled a yearly well-check visit, do so today.

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What are Nutrition Guidelines for Men, Based on Age?

Whether you’re a man or a woman, following a balanced diet can help you feel better, stay at a healthy weight and fight disease.

Follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that features foods from the five food groups divided into these portions—the largest for vegetables, followed in size by grains, protein, fruits and dairy, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Choose healthier oils like olive and canola and limit sugar.

As you get older, you also have a greater risk of developing health issues like heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. The USDA suggests men over 50 watch their calories by continuing to eat more of the good foods from five food groups and fewer unhealthy fats, sugars and refined carbohydrates. It also becomes more important to watch your salt.

Ask you doctor about an eating plan that will work for you based on your age and health.

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How does Being Inactive Lead to Health Problems for Men?

If you’re like most Americans who spend much of their time sitting at a desk or sitting on a couch, you may have an inactive—sedentary—lifestyle. And that may put you at greater risk for health problems like:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Colon cancer
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain and obesity

Adding even a small amount of physical activity—like taking a walk for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week—can help greatly reduce the risk for developing these health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Ask your doctor about your health risks due to being inactive and how you can get more active to improve your health.

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How Can I Lead a More Active Lifestyle?

There’s a good chance you’re reading this while sitting at your computer. And you may have been sitting there for quite a while!

We all sit at our computer, in our car and in front of our TV. Research is showing that long periods of being inactive can raise your risk of developing heart disease, cancer and other health problems.

It can be tough to change from an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. But taking even small steps toward a more active lifestyle can make a big difference by reducing your health risks.

  • You can start to build physical activity into your regular routine by:
  • Taking the stairs instead of an elevator
  • Parking farther away when going to the grocery, the mall or at work so that you have to walk farther
  • Take on some of the cleaning at home, including vacuuming, washing the car, gardening, raking leaves or shoveling

The National Institutes of Health also recommends cutting back on the time you spend in front of the TV, computer and other electronics. You could:

  • Watch less TV
  • Walk your dog or take a walk yourself before you watch a TV show
  • Work out on an exercise ball, stationary bike or treadmill while watching TV
  • Limit computer time before you sit down and turn the computer on

Talk to your doctor for more ideas about how you can get more active.

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Are there medical conditions or procedures that cause urinary incontinence for men?

There are some medical conditions that can cause urinary incontinence in men, including diabetes and an enlarged prostate, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Researchers suspect that microvascular damage caused by diabetes is what leads to urinary incontinence for some people, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Also in men, some kinds of prostate surgery and other surgeries in the pelvis can cause urinary incontinence, according to the NIH.

In addition, other conditions and life events that can cause urinary incontinence in men, according to the NIH, include:

  • Age – Bladder muscles can get weaker as men age. This leads to decreased bladder capacity to store urine.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – With this condition, the prostate becomes enlarged but is not cancerous. The enlarged prostate can press against and pinch the urethra. This can eventually lead to incomplete bladder emptying and urinary incontinence.
  • Chronic coughing – An ongoing cough can increase pressure on the bladder and the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Obesity – Excess weight puts pressure on the bladder, which increases the need to urinate even when the bladder is not yet full.
  • Physical inactivity – Decreased activity can increase a body weight, which can lead to muscle weakness.

For more about conditions and procedures that can increase a man’s risk of urinary incontinence, talk with your doctor.

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How is urinary incontinence treated in men?

The way urinary incontinence in men is treated depends on the type of urinary incontinence the man is affected by, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

The first steps health care providers typically recommend, according to the NIH, include:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Bladder training
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Urgency suppression

If these steps are tried and don’t work, your physician might recommend some of the following options to treat your urinary incontinence, according to the NIH:

  • Bulking agents
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
  • Medications
  • Surgery

For more information about treating urinary incontinence in men, talk with your physician.

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Can urinary incontinence be a symptom of an underlying health issue in men?

The way urinary incontinence in men is treated depends on the type of urinary incontinence the man is affected by, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Urinary incontinence is a symptom of a number of health issues, and Premier Health Specialists’ (PHS) physicians recommend visiting a urologist to find a cause if you start leaking urine.

Some health issues urinary incontinence can be a symptom of, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH), include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Overactive bladder
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Prostate cancer
  • Stroke

Talk to your doctor to learn more about men’s health issues of which urinary incontinence can be a symptom.

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Source: Source: Dale Block, MD, CPE, Premier Family Care of Mason; Nafisa Islam, MD, Brookville Family Care; Gene Lease, MD, Vandalia Medical Center; Timothy O Donnell, MD, Miami Valley Primary Care; Mark Ringle, MD, Beavercreek Family Physicians; Breanna Veal, PA-C, Walden Ponds Primary Care; Douglas Gaker, MD, Premier Urology Center

Content Updated: April 26, 2019

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