Answers to Common Men’s Health Questions

Premier HealthNet doctors answer frequently asked questions about men’s health.

What can men do to improve their prostate health?

Problems with men’s prostate health can include prostate cancer, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostatitis.

  • Prostate cancer - Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
    • According to the National Cancer Institute, some steps men can take to improve prostate health and possibly reduce the risk of prostate cancer include healthy eating habits, regular exercise and not smoking.
    • Prostate cancer doesn’t always have early symptoms. Tests that can be done to give more information about a cancerous tumor include   prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing and core needle biopsy.
    • Talk with your physician to find out more about your prostate health and to determine what, if any, testing is best for you.
  • BPH – Also known as enlarged prostate, BPH makes it harder for urine to flow and creates the needs to urinate more often.
    • What are some common warning signs of stress and/or depression in men?
    • Symptoms of BPH include straining during urination, a weak urine stream and feeling like your bladder isn’t empty.
    • Depending on the severity of the enlarged prostate, physicians may recommend waiting for the symptoms to subside, taking medicine, any of a number of non-surgical procedures or surgery.
    • Talk with your physician about what solution to BPH would best fit your personal situation.
  • Prostatitis – This infection or inflammation of the prostate causes the gland to become swollen and painful. Prostatitis can cause burning during urination, pressure or pain in the genitals, fever, chills and possible sickness.
    • Prostatitis can be caused by infections and tightening of the pelvic muscles or reflux of urine into the prostate ducts.
    • The infection can be treated with medications.
    • If you have symptoms you believe show signs of prostatitis, talk to your physician about possible steps to alleviate the issue.

As with any health concerns, it is always a good idea to talk with your physician about symptoms you have and the solutions and treatments that can best meet your needs.

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What are some common warning signs of stress and/or depression in men?

Oftentimes, men don’t seek help when they feel stressed or depressed. So, it’s important that men and those close to them can recognize the warning signs of stress and depression so they can work to take care of the issues.

General signs of stress:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Increase in 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

Depression can itself be a sign of long-term stress.

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

Once stress and/or depression are identified in your life, it is important to find positive ways to respond.

Coping with stress:

  • Identify the stress and what triggers it.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of sleep, eating right and exercising.
  • Respond positively to stress by managing the things you can change and letting go of the things you cannot control.
  • Relax and slow down.

Talk with your physician if there are sign of stress or depression that you feel you might be experiencing.

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What are some of the most common men’s health issues?

Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol are among the most common men’s health issues.

  • Heart disease – High cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and excess weight are among the risk factors that can cause heart disease, which involves damage to the arteries.
  • High blood pressure – Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure doesn’t have specific symptoms but causes other problems, such as heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
  • Diabetes – Type 2 Diabetes, the most common type, causes your cells to incorrectly process the food your body breaks down, leaving you with high blood sugar.
  • High cholesterol – High levels of bad cholesterol in your blood forms plaque that builds up in the walls of your arteries, which narrows the opening for blood to flow. Over time, this can cause heart attack or stroke.

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What are nutrition guidelines for men, and how do they change as men age?

Like everyone, it is important for men to have a balanced diet. Eating foods from the five food groups and limiting fats and sugars can help men maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends not only eating foods from each food group, but also eating these foods in proportion at each meal. This can be found by dividing a meal into five portions – the largest for vegetables, followed in size by grains, protein, fruits and dairy.

As men age, it’s important they pay even closer attention to their nutrition. The USDA suggests that men over 50 watch their calorie intake by continuing to eat foods from the five food groups and limiting unhealthy fats and sugars.

Aging men also have an increased chance of health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol, and will have specific nutrition needs based on their health concerns. As men age, they should also limit salt intake and refined carbohydrates.

Talk with your physician about what nutritional guidelines are best for you to follow.

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What can men do to keep from experiencing high levels of stress?

Feelings stressed can be caused by anything as small as misplacing car keys to as big as divorce. It is important to find healthy ways to manage stress to keep it under control.

Managing stress:

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

Talk to your physician about other healthy ways to manage stress in your life.

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What is low testosterone, and what are the symptoms?

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).

When testosterone levels are low, sex drive, physical features and mood all can be affected, according to the NIH. This is a problem that affects about 5 million American men.

Low testosterone in men is called andropause, and levels of testosterone decrease on a gradual basis.

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
  • More than usual irritability

Having severe low testosterone levels can cause a man’s body to lose body hair and muscle, according to the NIH.

Talk to your doctor for more information about the symptoms of low testosterone and what to do if you have low levels.

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What are some of the top issues my doctor might address during an annual well-check visit?

It is important to make sure you schedule with your doctor 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, some issues you can expect to discuss, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), include:

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

Depending on your age range, there are different factors your doctor might be concerned about when it comes to these health issues, according to the AAFP.

You and your physician may discuss other health issues as it relates to your personal and family medical history. If you haven’t scheduled a yearly well-check visit, do so today.

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What health problems does having a sedentary lifestyle put men at risks for?

Having a sedentary lifestyle means that you spend your life doing mostly activities that involve sitting down, such as watching TV or using the computer or other electronics, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Having a sedentary lifestyle can put men at risk of developing a variety of health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of those problems include:

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

Adding even a minimal amount of physical activity – such as 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 CDC.

Talk to your physician for more information about the risks that come along with living a sedentary lifestyle.

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How can someone determine if he has too much belly fat?

Too much belly fat – called visceral fat – can lead to a greater risk of serious health problems for men, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and more.

To determine if you have too much belly fat, you can start by measuring your waist size, according to The Mayo Clinic. For most men, the risk factors for other diseases and health conditions increase with a waist that is bigger than 40 inches.

To take the waist measurement, place the tap 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.

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

Talk to your doctor to learn more about how to measure belly fat and how much is too much.

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What medical effects can low testosterone have on a man’s physical and mental well-being?

Having low testosterone – the hormone that helps the body produce and maintain adult male features – can have a variety of effects a man’s physical and mental well-being.

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

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

According to the NIH and ADA, the ways low testosterone can affect a man’s mental health include:

  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Depression

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

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What diseases does having belly fat put men at risk for?

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

Studies recently have shown a link between a large waist and a higher risk of death, according to the AARP.

The more belly fat a man carries, the more likely he is to be affected by diseases and conditions, including:

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

If you are concerned about belly fat, talk with your doctor for ways to combat it.

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Can low testosterone lead to other medical issues?

Low testosterone is common in men, but often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other conditions, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

If not diagnosed and treated, low testosterone in men can lead to various other medical issues, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

One common medical issue that can be caused by low testosterone is erectile dysfunction. Testosterone helps produce sperm cells and keeps men interested in sex, according to the NIH.

Severely low testosterone, according to the NIH, can also cause other medical issues, including:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Osteoporosis, with bones that are more prone to fracture
  • Insulin resistance

There are two main types of osteoporosis – primary and secondary, according to the NIH. With secondary osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass is caused by some kind of lifestyle behavior disease and medication, including low testosterone levels.

Also, low testosterone levels are common in men with diabetes because low testosterone levels can cause insulin resistance, according to the ADA and the NIH. Insulin resistance is directly linked to diabetes, hypertension, hyperglycemia and more.

Research has found that diabetes is one of the types of pre-existing health issues that can increase a man’s risk of low testosterone, according to the ADA.

Talk to your physician for more information about these or other medical conditions that can be caused by low testosterone.

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What can we do to combat a sedentary lifestyle?

Once a sedentary lifestyle is part of your regular day-to-day routine, it can be hard to change. But, taking even small steps toward a more active lifestyle can make a big difference by reducing your health risks.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you can start to build physical activity into your regular routine by taking small steps, such as:

  • 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 NIH also recommends reducing the time you spend in front of the TV, computer and other electronics. You could try:

  • Cutting back on the amount of TV you watch
  • Committing to giving the dog a walk or taking a walk yourself before watching a TV show
  • Choosing to work out on an exercise ball, stationary bike or treadmill while watching TV
  • Limiting computer time before you sit down and turn the computer on

For more information about ways to combat a sedentary lifestyle, talk to your doctor.

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Thanks to Premier HealthNet providers for answering these common questions about men’s health:

Additional Resources

This website provides general medical information that should be used for informative and educational purposes only. Information found here should not be used as a substitute for the personal, professional medical advice of your physician. Do not begin any course of treatment without consulting a physician.