Five Myths About Men's Health

Men can devel­op a vari­ety of uri­nary symp­toms or changes with their prostate gland as they age. Most don’t seek med­ical treat­ment for these issues, treat­ing fre­quent night­ly trips to the bath­room and oth­er symp­toms as an inevitable part of the aging process. Devel­op­ing con­di­tions like benign pro­sta­t­ic hyper­pla­sia (an enlarged prostate), uri­nary incon­ti­nence, over­ac­tive blad­der or low­ered testos­terone lev­els does­n’t mean you should suf­fer in silence. These con­di­tions are like­ly to wors­en over time and if left untreat­ed, can lead to oth­er health prob­lems and have a seri­ous impact on your over­all health. Depend­ing on the sever­i­ty of your symp­toms and their impact on your dai­ly rou­tine, there are treat­ment options avail­able to help. Urol­o­gist, Jagan Kansal, MD, MBA, shares some of the mis­con­cep­tions about these com­mon men’s health con­di­tions and treat­ment that are avail­able so you can enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle as you age.

Myth #1: If you devel­op Benign Pro­sta­t­ic Hyper­pla­sia (BPH), the sever­i­ty of your uri­nary symp­toms depends on the size of your prostate and hav­ing an enlarged prostate increas­es your chances of devel­op­ing prostate cancer.

Fact: BPH is com­mon con­di­tion, impact­ing near­ly 70 per­cent of men by the age of 60, which caus­es your prostate gland to become enlarged. As your prostate gland grows, it may begin to apply pres­sure on your ure­thra and even­tu­al­ly impairs or blocks the flow of urine from your body. This can cause symp­toms includ­ing dif­fi­cul­ty start­ing to uri­nate, a weak stream, increased urge and fre­quen­cy to uri­nate and dif­fi­cul­ty ful­ly emp­ty­ing your blad­der. In some men, their prostate gland becomes enlarged with­out hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant impact on their blad­der or uri­nary tract and as a result their symp­toms are min­i­mal. In oth­er men, their prostate gland may be only slight­ly enlarged but it impacts their uri­nary sys­tem enough to cause severe symptoms.

Hav­ing an enlarged prostate gland does not mean you are at a high­er risk for prostate can­cer, how­ev­er, if left untreat­ed, BPH can dam­age to your blad­der and you are more like­ly to expe­ri­ence chron­ic uri­nary tract infec­tions. If you expe­ri­ence uri­nary symp­toms that may be caused by BPH, a urol­o­gist can per­form a phys­i­cal exam, assess the sever­i­ty of your symp­toms and help you select a treat­ment that’s right for you.

Myth #2: Erec­tile dys­func­tion (ED) is due to an issue in your groin or is all in your head and has no con­nec­tion to your lifestyle or phys­i­cal health.

Fact: Dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting or main­tain­ing an erec­tion can be frus­trat­ing and embar­rass­ing. Many men assume that the issue stems sole­ly from their groin area, or chalk it up to men­tal block. While ED can be caused by a vari­ety issues includ­ing stress, if the prob­lem per­sists for more than three months, you should not ignore it. Pro­longed peri­ods of ED could be a symp­tom of oth­er under­ly­ing health con­di­tions includ­ing ele­vat­ed blood pres­sure or high cho­les­terol. Over time these con­di­tions can dam­age your blood ves­sels and restrict blood flow through­out your body, includ­ing to your penis, mak­ing achiev­ing an erec­tion dif­fi­cult. Unhealthy habits like smok­ing can also dam­age blood ves­sels. Quit­ting smok­ing may help reduce your erec­tion dif­fi­cul­ties over time. Oth­er chron­ic con­di­tions like dia­betes, low testos­terone or depres­sion are also linked to ED. It is impor­tant to alert your doc­tor if you expe­ri­ence ED so they can help you to rule out oth­er under­ly­ing health con­di­tions that may be con­tribut­ing to your symp­toms. It is also impor­tant to know that there are treat­ment options for all sever­i­ties of ED. You do not have to suffer!

Myth #3: Infer­til­i­ty is a female problem.

FACT: The adage of it takes two to tan­go” is very true when it comes to infer­til­i­ty. In fact, research has shown that 30 per­cent of all fer­til­i­ty cas­es are sole­ly caused by the male part­ner and in up to 50 per­cent of infer­tile cou­ples, there is some male com­po­nent. The ini­tial screen­ing test for men is sim­ple and only involves a semen analy­sis. This will rule out most male infer­til­i­ty issues. If there are abnor­mal­i­ties seen on your semen analy­sis, there are var­i­ous options to help improve the abnormalities.

Myth #4: Testos­terone lev­els indi­cate how mas­cu­line you are and high­er or low­er that aver­age lev­els of testos­terone aren’t a big deal.

Fact: Your testos­terone lev­el fluc­tu­ates often and can be impact­ed by a vari­ety of oth­er fac­tors. Low­er testos­terone does not mean you are less man­ly. Your diet, activ­i­ty lev­el and cer­tain health con­di­tions includ­ing obe­si­ty or sleep apnea can cause your testos­terone lev­els to drop. It is impor­tant to deter­mine what is caus­ing your low testos­terone before select­ing a treat­ment. Keep­ing your testos­terone with­in a nor­mal range is an essen­tial part of main­tain­ing your over­all health. Fail­ing to address low testos­terone can increase your risk of osteo­poro­sis, heart dis­ease and depres­sion. If you are con­sid­er­ing testos­terone sup­ple­ments, it is impor­tant to do so under the care of a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al because in some cas­es these sup­ple­ments and a high­er-than-aver­age testos­terone lev­el can have adverse health impli­ca­tions. For some testos­terone sup­ple­ments can cause sleep apnea to wors­en or increase your risk of devel­op­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems. Using testos­terone med­ica­tions to boost your ath­let­ic per­for­mance can also cause your tes­ti­cles to shrink and have a neg­a­tive impact on your fer­til­i­ty. Your urol­o­gist can help you deter­mine what is caus­ing your low testos­terone and which treat­ment option is best, and safest for you.

Myth #5: Prostate can­cer does­n’t run in my fam­i­ly, so I don’t need to wor­ry about it, or be screened.

Fact: While fam­i­ly his­to­ry of prostate can­cer increas­es your chances of devel­op­ing prostate can­cer, age is the largest risk fac­tor. Prostate can­cer devel­ops in one in every sev­en men as they age and often does not cause any notice­able symp­toms until it has reached a more advanced stage. This means it is impor­tant to take steps to reduce your risk now and be aware of the warn­ing signs. Stay­ing active, eat­ing a bal­anced diet and main­tain­ing a healthy weight are easy ways you can reduce your risk of devel­op­ing prostate can­cer in the future. You should alert your pri­ma­ry care provider or con­sult with a urol­o­gist if you notice chances with your urine includ­ing uri­nary fre­quen­cy, dis­com­fort when uri­nat­ing or blood in your urine to deter­mine the cause and begin treatment.

While it is not uncom­mon for your blad­der or prostate to change as you age, you should not ignore the symp­toms. Many men’s health con­di­tions can be treat­ed eas­i­ly with lifestyle changes and med­ical care includ­ing med­ica­tions and min­i­mal­ly inva­sive pro­ce­dures. If you expe­ri­ence any changes relat­ed to your blad­der or prostate, or have oth­er male-spe­cif­ic con­cerns, meet­ing with a urol­o­gist can help you min­i­mize the impact symp­toms have on your dai­ly life and keep you healthy and active as you age. Sched­ule with a Urol­o­gy doc­tor online or call 630−790−1221.

  • I am fully committed to offering comprehensive urologic care to every single one of my patients. With a specialty in male infertility and sexual medicine, I believe that health care should focus on both the longevity and quality of life. I strive for a patient-centered approach with patient education being at the core of my practice philosophy. With my extensive training in the field of men's health, my goal is to educate you on the best treatments available, so we can collaborate and determine the best option for you.