Reclaiming Male Vitality

Medicine has evolved with dramatic advances in diagnosis and treatment. Changing too is lifestyle awareness with emphasis on healthy diet and exercise.  People as a whole are living longer and yet, decade after decade, in both industrialized societies and in developing countries, men die younger than women. The reality is that women think about their health, and they do more about it.  So why are men then such reluctant patients?

One primary reason is the cultural roles that are ingrained in men, and the current healthcare system does not address this pathological stoicism. At an early age, boys become accustomed to emulate their masculine persona, tough, independent and unemotional. As a result they downplay pain, vulnerability and emotional distress. How do we entice men then to become active participants in their own health?

The question is what do men care about? Men place just as much value on their confidence, cognition, appearance, sexuality, performance and presence as Women.

The dilemma is that men are less concerned with health problems that a doctor might diagnose as a serious condition. Men living with chronic degenerative diseases that are unaddressed is similar to ignoring the elephant in the room, except this elephant has a limp trunk.

Rather then speaking in generalities of a male patients health concern, the physician would benefit in appealing to their inner values and tie them into underlying health issues. If a man perceives that he will have improved skin, hair, cognition, energy and sexual performance as a result of making the necessary lifestyle modifications, then he will become inspired to have a healthy diet, exercise, avoid tobacco, manage stress, and limit alcohol intake.

The reality is that men are more inclined to care about sexual problems than the possibility of cardiovascular disease. Erectile dysfunction can be the presenting symptom for a variety of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, and high blood pressure. In patients with erectile dysfunction there was a 25% increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, chest pain, or mini-strokes, compared to men with no erectile dysfunction. So for example, it would serve the physician to convey the message to the patient that what happens to the penis predicts what happens to the heart.

Therefore, cardiovascular disease may be successfully treated using antioxidants. ARONIA PASCOE provides a rich source of anthocyanin’s that help protect the body’s tissues against the damaging effects of harmful free radicals. Aronia berry extracts have a positive effect on risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, plasma glucose and diabetes.

We see growing comfort with sex as a cultural topic, but people still aren’t talking about their own sex lives. Erectile dysfunction effects not just the man but also their partner and this can have important implications for overall health and happiness in their relationship. 

What about obesity and performance? Men care about their appearance and vitality and many want to lose weight but don’t realize that declining testosterone levels shift weight distribution disproportionally, let alone exhaust them to the point of living sedentary.  After age 30, testosterone levels drop by about 10 percent every decade, and the symptoms of Andropause can vary from one man to the next, ranging from lethargy, muscle weakness, insomnia to low libido, depression and erectile dysfunction.  Physicians will gain leverage by communicating to their male patients the myriad of related physiological changes commonly associated with aging.

Cognitive deterioration is another consequence of chronic stress, emotional guarding, insomnia and other negative coping behaviors such as the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and avoidance. Men want to maintain their sharp minds and powerful presence, therefore, it would be of benefit for men to be knowledgeable of the warning signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease and chronic depression.

The causes of stress are multi-faceted and the subsequent reactions are different for every individual. Work, financial and family-related stress are all commonly encountered during appointments with your male patients. Stress can be a fundamental factor in disruptions to sleep, appetite, digestion and reproduction

Men must strive to recognize what conditions predispose them to disease, injury and death before their time. They must become active participants in their own health and it is important to bestow this habit into them at an early age. Mother’s bring their sons into the office and this becomes a window of opportunity for the physician to engrain health perspectives into these boys at a very young age. It is no different from the husband, who is coerced by his spouse to see his doctor, except he may be more resistive towards making the necessary lifestyle changes.  Men are problem solvers, and when there is something not quite right, they look into it to find a solution but when it applies to them they turn a blind eye.

Men who glance under the hood of their car every time the engine coughs should be as keen to get help when they have a cough. Approaching men is similar to car restoration; every patient is an exceedingly rare Ferrari and if given the right assessment and tune up, would run anew. Just like a car, there are parts required, replaced and repaired, it doesn’t happen immediately but with every tune up, the body will run better, faster and stronger.

Nevertheless, it is important to appeal to a man's dignity, his natural warrior spirit, then, we as physicians can invite men to take command of themselves, to be strong, virile and healthy so they can protect, provide and lead their families. It is imperative that a man is cognizant of the fact that healthy living takes work discipline and perseverance. A man is both the marble and the sculptor. With this in mind men can take the steps to increase the number of healthy years they get to spend with their loved ones. Men are masters of their own ship and we as physicians are their navigators that set the course for them to sail.