A large-scale study of close to four million patients conducted in the UK demonstrated that men were 32% less likely to consult with a primary care provider. They are also far less likely to want to talk about their concerns as evidenced by a phone survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic. Out of 500 men, only 7% said health was a topic of discussion with their male friends. Despite the fact that primary care providers are trained to screen for various disorders and conditions the male patient may not notice until it's too late.
What kinds of problems are they avoiding?
1. Joint pain. Waking up with new creaks and cracks isn't an uncommon problem for aging Canadians, with over 20% of the population impacted by arthritis. More specifically, one in six men suffer and that number is on the rise. Whether elbow and wrist or hip and knee, declining testosterone might be to blame. Testosterone helps maintain bone density, and when levels begin to fall as happens in aging individuals, this can contribute to bone and joint concerns.
2. Body image. From an early age, everyone is subjected to advertising that pushes them to view their body a certain way. Perhaps it is lose weight, bulk up, avoid the 'dad bod', the messaging and suggestions are endless. Research is heavily skewed towards looking at body image concerns in the female population, making it less likely for males to broach the topic. Consider that overweight and obese boys are often selected last for sports and the impact this might have on long-term behaviours and mental well-being.
3. ED. While this conversation may well be the most avoided, erectile dysfunction impacts over 3 million fellow Canadians above the age of 40. There are numerous reasons and factors that contribute to ED based on the individual. Changes to blood circulation, fitness and activity, and even psychological health can impact erectile function. This can lead to changes in quality of life and negatively impact not only mental health, but the health of their relationship as well.
4. Slowing down. With age comes seemingly unavoidable changes, like the body reminding you that you are no longer 20. In part, this relates back to that declining testosterone discussed earlier. It drops by about 1% annually after the age of 40. This makes it harder to maintain muscle mass, bone density, libido, and may even contribute to alterations in the nervous system. The heart also begins to pump less, meaning it becomes more difficult to maintain aerobic exercise. You may feel breathless with even light activity by the time you get to your later years.
5. Stretch marks. While body image focused on the more psychological impacts, consider this common change to skin. Whether from actual stretching of the skin like during puberty and weight gain or hormones, these are more common than you think. It typically occurs in the buttocks and lower back for adolescent and adult men according to a 2014 review. Treatment with low level laser therapy and light devices has been shown to improve the appearance of stretch marks and reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin.
6. Balding. The Canadian Hair Loss Association notes that about 30% of men by age 30 and 50% by age 50 will experience balding, more formally known as androgenetic alopecia. Treatment options can vary from medications like finasteride and minoxidil to low level laser therapy and hair transplants. Nutrient deficiencies can also contribute to hair loss, more specifically deficiencies of silica, iron, biotin and zinc.
How do we support the men in our life?
A big leap is discussing and normalizing some of these issues throughout all levels of media (including this!). This includes fostering an understanding that problems or concerns don't need to become unbearable before seeking support.
Walking your loved one through the Canadian Screening Guidelines, created by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, is a way of ensuring they protect their long-term health and have a greater quality of life. For instance, digital rectal exams and prostate-specific antigen tests are ways to assess your risk of prostate cancer or inflammation.
Further support here is found in a product known as Prostate1. Over the course of the 8-week trial, the participants took one 320mg capsule of Prostate1 daily and saw their symptoms improve dramatically. Their International Prostate Symptom Scores improved by 51% while their ability to '[get] and [keep] an erection' improved by 64% measured with the brief Sexual Function Inventory.
Should I reduce my workouts to reduce my risk of injury?
Exercise and treating movement as medicine are some of the best ways to maintain vigour and health, both physical and mental, across the full spectrum of life. It can help decrease the stiffness of blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, increase muscle and bone strength, and combat the risk of depression and lapses in memory.
Another aspect to consider is the impact of a hip fall that could lead to death, but exercise can reduce the risk of falls by 21%. Working with a licensed athletic therapist or personal trainer is a way to find a routine that helps you meet your goals.
And for those post workout aches and pains A.Vogel's Arnica Gel quickly relieves muscle or joint pain. It is clinically proven to reduce inflammation, stops collagenase production, an enzyme that destroys cartilage and is powerful enough to relieve osteoarthritis pain.
If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to read our others including 'Sex, Prostate1 and Rock & Roll' for a more in-depth look at erectile dysfunction and supporting libido.