For men, the journey towards optimal health encompasses physical vitality, mental resilience, and emotional equilibrium. As we navigate the complexities of work, relationships, and personal growth, a robust guide to men’s health becomes not just valuable but indispensable.
According to Dr Disha Sheth, physician, Ruby Hall Clinic, due to involvement in high-risk professions like construction, military, etc., men are more likely to end up suffering from serious injuries. She added that the prevalence of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) as well as obesity is higher in men, leading to cardiovascular problems. “But among all these factors affecting men’s health the most overlooked is chronic depression and anxiety.”
Dr Suprakash Chaudhury, professor and HOD, psychiatry department, DPU Private Super Specialty Hospital, noted that societal expectations and biased gender roles are harsh in limiting men to only a stereotypical presentation of an emotionless breadwinner, who can’t have mental or nervous breakdowns unless he wants to be considered weak or “not manly enough”, adding that “men are far less likely to speak openly about their mental health concerns such as depression, or anxiety – and often downplay their symptoms.”
Dr Tejas Gundewar, chief male-female fertility consultant, Ruby Hall Clinic explained that regular prostate and testicular screenings are critical, particularly as men age. Discuss with healthcare providers the appropriate timing and frequency of screenings.
The correlation between the decrease in testosterone levels in men of middle age and the onset of midlife crisis and depression is now being established, said Dr Sheth. “There is also evidence that mood disorders (including depression and anxiety) and sexual dysfunction are associated in men. Sexual dysfunction might cause depression because of the negative psychological burden associated with it.”
How can men take care of their testosterone levels?
1. Exercising is important: Exercising regularly, with an equal balance of aerobics and resistance training
2. Maintain ideal waist-hip-ratio: With the increase in belly fat, the levels of an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen also increase
3. Prevent/control diabetes: Diabetic individuals are twice as likely to have lower testosterone levels
4. Adequate sleep: Disturbed and fragmented sleep, especially that of the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase bodes poorly for the body’s testosterone levels
5. Avoiding tobacco and alcohol: Substances of abuse have the strongest correlation with a reduction in levels of testosterone.
6. Avoid excessive stress: Learn to cope better with the daily stressors that are an inevitable part of daily life
7. Eat good food: Eating less refined and processed foods, and relying more on natural sources of protein and fibre.
How can men be mindful of their mental and physical health?
a. Regular Health Check-ups: Men should prioritise consistent health check-ups, including screenings for conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and prostate health. Early detection significantly enhances potential positive outcomes.
b. Balanced Diet and Exercise: Embracing a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and regular physical activity is essential. This aids in maintaining a healthy weight, supporting cardiovascular health, and contributing to overall well-being.
c. Mental Health Awareness: Recognise and address mental health concerns. Men should stay mindful of their mental well-being, seek support when necessary, and work towards destigmatising discussions around mental health.
d. Limiting Substance Use: Excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use can have adverse effects on men’s health. Avoiding or limiting these substances can decrease the risk of various health issues, including liver disease and certain cancers.
e. Safety Practices: Engage in safe practices at work and during recreational activities. Wearing protective gear, adhering to safety guidelines, and exercising caution in potentially risky situations can prevent injuries and long-term health issues.
f. Stress Management: Adopt stress-reducing practices like mindfulness, meditation, or engaging in hobbies. Managing stress is crucial for mental well-being.
g. Reproductive Health: Men should be mindful of their reproductive health, including fertility. Consultation with a healthcare professional can offer guidance on family planning and addressing fertility concerns.
h. Bone Health: As testosterone levels decline with age, maintaining bone health becomes crucial. Adequate calcium intake, vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercises can support bone density. Regular bone density screenings may be recommended.