may cringe at getting a prostate check, they are far less uncomfortable than experiencing the pain of cancer treatment.
2. Men need to monitor their testosterone levels.
Beginning at age 30, testosterone begins to dip by 1% each year, says Legato. Lowered testosterone levels can lead to a decrease in vitality, muscle mass, ability to perform prolonged exercise, memory, concentration, and libido. Not only does this impair quality of life, but it can also contribute to depression, which can have a significant effect on male health, potentially increasing the risk of coronary disease. There are several treatments available — including gels, patches, and injections — that can help restore this vital hormone to proper levels.
3. Men need to protect their immune systems.
The male immune system is not as vigorous as those of females, and men die from seven of the 10 most common infections at a higher rate, Legato says, particularly tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. Sanitary sexual practices are essential, beginning with the use of a condom. Men should check for updated vaccinations with their doctor when traveling to foreign countries. A tetanus shot should be administered every 10 years.
“Immunization is not finished after the second year of life,” Legato says. Also, proper nutrition and supplementation can also be beneficial. Despite the gender-focused attention it receives, osteoporosis also strikes men.
4. Men need to recognize, acknowledge and treat their depression.
Male depression may be much more common than has been previously estimated. Symptoms aren’t always obvious, and the current medical system sometimes prevents doctors from obtaining a proper understanding of a patient’s personality and life.
“While we like to say that women are twice as depressed as men, what depressed men actually do is turn to behaviors that are semi-socially acceptable: drinking alcohol, TV watching, greater sexual exploits.”
Legato is convinced the vulnerability of depression can compromise men’s health in other ways, leading to increased instances of disease and greater male mortality from such conditions. It’s also a common symptom of “andropause,” which is marked by a decrease of testosterone in males that is similar, if less dramatic, than the effect of menopause in females. Indeed, males are also susceptible to the notorious hot flashes that have often marked the change of life for women, albeit years later.
Left untreated, depression can have catastrophic results.
Regarding suicide, Korman says that while women typically make more attempts, “men are much better at completing it.”
Men need to realize, Legato says, how destructive depression can be to their health and openly discuss their concerns with a doctor.
5. Men need to know their risk for coronary disease.
Coronary disease, Legato says, “takes a toll on men in their prime and leaves families bereft.” It’s imperative to sit down and assess the risks along with any predisposed genetic tendencies and discuss these with a doctor. Have any relatives died of heart disease before the age of 60? What are your cholesterol levels? Have you experienced fainting episodes, loss of consciousness, or shortness of breath?
“We downplay this tremendously,” Legato says.
Again, men aren’t genetically blessed compared to women in this area. The female hormone estrogen provides women with a layer of protection that men don’t naturally possess, asserts Legato. Men can begin developing signs of coronary artery disease at the age of 35, Legato says, while women don’t present a risk of a heart attack similar to men until much later. Men with a family history of heart disease should alert their doctor and take proper precautions beginning in their 30s.
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Legato says. “We should be turning a very critical eye on why coronary disease starts in the mid-30s.”