Men’s health: beyond the basics
Men’s health issues track closely with age and natural changes that take place over the course of a man’s life. The following guidelines are designed to help men understand key health issues at each stage of life and the impact that aging will have on their health.
Young men typically experience high levels of testosterone that results in heightened sex drive, increased strength, stamina and risk-taking. Therefore, health issues related to young men often involve addressing risky behaviour and preventing accidents, illnesses or injuries. Some common issues for young men are sexually transmitted or other infectious diseases, sports-related injuries, aggressive behaviour, muscle strains, acne, accidents or substance abuse.
Young men between the ages of 15 and 29 are at the highest risk of developing testicular cancer and should be aware of the normal look and feel of their testicles. If the testicles present with changes or pain, they are encouraged to follow up with their doctor. This is also a good time to begin seeing a physician on a regular basis. Regular check-ups will allow your care team to get an early start on disease prevention, compile and evaluate your complete health history and consider any hereditary issues that may arise in the future.
Family aged men
Men who are planning a family or have young children often have health questions or concerns related to procreation, fertility and parenthood. Depending upon the nature of the problem, care may involve counseling and education, lab tests to determine reproductive viability, medication and treatment, and in some cases, surgical intervention. Hair loss, allergies, training injuries and early signs of posture related complaints such as neck, shoulder or back pain are also common complaints at this age. If a man is considering a vasectomy this is usually the time he starts having questions.
Skin cancer is a concern for men of all ages but becomes increasingly prevalent as men age. Remember to always cover up, put on a hat and wear sunscreen!
Middle aged men
Men between the ages of 45 and 65 are in the most precarious zone for establishing long-term prospects for good health. Lifestyle choices made during this period of life will have a profound impact on a man’s future health. Poor decisions made up to, and during this stage of life, can pare unnecessary years off an otherwise productive life. Happily, wise decisions made during this period can add years and drive enhanced quality of life. Although men often prefer not to admit it, many changes that occur during this period of life are the result of changing hormones, particularly declining Testosterone levels. Declining Testosterone that drops steadily by 1% a year after age 50 can cause an increase in irritability, anger and depression as well as a marked loss of strength, motivation, sex-drive and energy.
It often seems unfair that decreases in strength, motivation and energy occur just at the time in life when exercise is most crucial. Weight gain that occurs as a man’s metabolism begins to slow in his late 30’s and early 40’s suggests that by age 50 many men are carrying excess weight, have elevated blood glucose and elevated blood pressure. Excess weight around the waist is of particular concern, as fat stores place men at an increased risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Increased risk of cardiovascular events often begins at the height of a man’s career when his earning potential is greatest and he is feeling the dual responsibilities of work and family pressure. Increased commitments often make it difficult to eat nutritious well-balanced meals or find time to exercise. Longer hours of work, travel, restaurant cuisine and poor-quality sleep also exacerbate the situation. This “perfect storm” of risks can greatly impact health and put middle-aged men at increased risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and cardiovascular events.
But it doesn’t have to be that way—many of the key risk factors for men’s age-related illnesses can be managed by lifestyle modification, early detection, treatment and intervention. Start paying special attention to your numbers: waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Talk to your care team about what’s healthy for you and specific strategies to reduce your risks. Prevalence of prostate and colon cancer increase around this age so regular screenings are prudent to catch them in the earliest stages when treatment is most effective.
Men in their later years often require close surveillance for early signs of cancer, cardiovascular disease and many common age-related issues such as erectile dysfunction, incontinence, early stages of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression. Nearing end-of-life, special assistance may be required to transition to a care home or assisted living. In later years men should be screened for osteoporosis and receive regular vision and hearing tests.
Whatever your stage in life your Copeman Healthcare team is here to help. Please reach out to your care team to discuss your personalized prevention plan or any issues or concerns.