Men and Health

Men need to pay more attention to their health. Women live averagely two to three years longer than men. Compared to women men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, make unhealthy or risky choices and put off regular checkups and medical care. Heart disease, strokes and certain cancers like lung, colon and prostate are still prevalent in men.

How can men maintain vitality?
  1. Nutrition – Have a diet rich in phytonutrients, fibre, good fats and essential amino acids. Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and foods high in toxins, chemicals and preservatives. A good example to follow will be the Okinawan and Mediterranean diets. Eating four to five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is recommended.
  2. Exercise – The important point here is regular exercise. Exercise should include cardio, strengthening, flexibility, balancing and core exercises. Exercise has enormous physical and emotional benefits. Besides reducing the risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, alzheimers disease and osteoporosis regular exercise can help in our general mood and reducing the risk for depression.
  3. Stay slim – Obesity is becoming an epidemic especially in Malaysia. We are the most obese country in South East Asia and the third most obese in Asia. Obesity is the cause of many diseases and death both directly and indirectly. If you follow Nutrition and Exercise as above than you might be able to maintain your weight as your genes only contribute to about 30%.
  4. Stress – This is another cause of health problems in men. Men tend to suppress their feelings and are not so open about their problems like women and this can have negative effects. You need to find time for relaxation. It is more important to set aside some time for relaxation than to worry about a specific relaxation technique. Even physical activity that is ‘relaxing’ in the sense that it gets your mind away from stressful thoughts can be helpful.
  5. Sleep – Adequate sleep is very important and has a lot of health benefits. Spending too much time watching television or on the computer and reducing sleeping time can be detrimental to your health. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep.
  6. Stop Smoking – Smoking kills. Millions of people every year all over the world die from smoking related diseases. Choosing not to smoke is without doubt the single most important health decision you can make.
  7. Alcohol – Should be in moderation. However the decision to drink socially should not be taken lightly. Approximately ten percent of people who start drinking socially will become alcoholics. Excessive drinking is a major cause of both physical disease and social tragedy.
  8. Screening – Partner with a doctor for regular health checks and screening. Some diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes are called “silent killers” as you may have no symptoms initially. Also early detection of heart disease and certain cancers like colon and prostate can save lives.
Andropause

Androgen deficiency in the ageing male or andropause is being diagnosed with increased frequency. A growing body of literature supports the view that a true testosterone decrease develops in some men around the age of 45 which can be associated with abroad spectrum of deficiency symptoms.

Manifestations associated with andropause include:

Vasomotor/Nervous system

  • Episodes of sweating
  • Hot flushes
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness

Masculinity

  • Decreased vigour and physical energy
  • Diminished muscle mass and strength
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Loss of lean muscle mass.

Sexuality

  • Decreased libido
  • Reduced sexuality
  • Poor erectile function
  • Limited quality of orgasm
  • Reduced volume of ejaculate
  • Weakness of ejaculation

It is obvious that testosterone affects many body systems including male sexual development, sexual behavior, sexual and erectile function, bone mineralization, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, muscle mass, muscle strength and hematopoiesis.

Prominent among the manifestations of andropause are mood disorders and decreased libido. Androgen administration renders men more vigorous when the hypogonadal state is corrected. The increased sense of wellbeing experienced by these persons can be dramatic. Self reported changes include: more relaxed feelings, improved sleep pattern, decreased fear and sadness, renewed sexual desire and interest and a decline in lethargic episodes.

Management of Andropause

Male hormone therapy has been shown to be dramatically effective in relieving symptoms and restoring drive, health, potency and a sense of renewed vitality.

Management includes:

  1. Reduce oestradiol levels and increase testosterone levels through dieting, exercise and nutritional supplements such as zinc and vitamin C. Testosterone is converted to oestradiol through the aromatase enzyme. Oestrogen is stored in fatty tissue and speeds up aromatase activity, therefore diet and exercise are important. A weight loss program can cut down oestradiol build up.
  2. Zinc supplementation in amounts of 100mg. per day is believed to decrease testosterone conversion to oestrogen, possibly by affecting the number of androgen receptor sites.
  3. Vitamin C has been used also to decrease aromatase activity in dose of 1-3 gram per day.
  4. Testosterone replacement therapy. Can be given through oral preparations, intramuscular injections or topical preparations. However andropause and testosterone replacement therapy can be complicated and it is wise to refer these patients to a medical practitioner with sufficient experience and knowledge.

Andropause versus Menopause

For most women the age of menopause is around the mid- fifties and apart from symptoms they will know they have menopause when their monthly periods stop. However in the age of andropause can vary from mid-forties to some even in their seventies depending on genes, nutrition and activity level.

Some symptoms affect both sexes:

  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy
  • Decrease in physical stamina
  • Feelings of depression
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Dry skin on face or hands
  • Increase in waist size
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increase in aches in joints and muscles
  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Difficult to lose weight.

The key thing for a woman to understand is that andropause does exist and could be the reason for decrease sex drive in a man. They should encourage their partner to seek help as andropause can be treated and also encourage and support them towards a healthier lifestyle.