5 Things You Should Know About Men’s Health

By Ernst Lamothe Jr.

Jacob Gantz is an attending physician for the Center for Urology of Rochester Regional Health.

Physicians understand getting male patients to come to their offices remains challenging. 

Men have many reasons not to skip their doctor’s visits. The top 10 health ailments that men suffer from more than women are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic pulmonary disease, accidents, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, suicide, kidney disease and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.

“Men’s health is a little overlooked,” said Jacob Gantz, attending physician for the Center for Urology as part of Rochester Regional Health. “But you have to understand that if you don’t take care of yourself, it will affect your quality of life and longevity. That affects yourself, friends and the family who care about you.”

Gantz, whose special interests include minimally invasive robotic surgery, kidney stone disease, and treatment of urologic cancers, gives five tips about men’s health.

1.Regular checkups

“Men should be screened regularly with checkups. When it specifically comes to urology we talk about prostate screening and if there is blood in your urine,” said Gantz. “There are also treatments and screenings for erectile dysfunction.”

Gantz also stressed the importance of self exams. A testicular self-exam is an inspection of the appearance and feel of your testicles. You can do a testicular exam yourself, typically standing in front of a mirror.

“Men should consider focusing on this self exam because it often allows us to catch testicular cancer early. Like any condition, early detection saves lives,” he added.

2.Men are reluctant

A recent Cleveland Clinic survey revealed some of the reasons why men don’t visit the physician regularly. Some men just don’t like talking about their health, the survey found — even when they do see a doctor. One in five admitted they haven’t been completely honest with their physicians. Common reasons included embarrassment or discomfort with discussing certain issues and not wanting to be told that they should change.

“Men sometimes hesitate going to the physician because of a few reasons, including their willingness to tolerate discomfort and saying they have busy lives and not wanting to take the time being of inconvenience,” said Gantz.

3.Importance of prostate exam

Beginning at about age 45 — and as young as 40 if you are African American or have a strong family history of prostate or other cancers — all men should talk to their doctor about screening for prostate cancer. Routine screening starts with a PSA blood test and may include a rectal exam. If your doctor is already drawing blood for other tests, the PSA test order can be added.

Results should be back within a few days.

“When you see your physician every year, they can recommend and refer you to a urologist,” said Gantz. “Visiting a urologist for a PSA test is still ideal. However, a PSA blood test can still be vital for testing. When incorporated with other diagnostic tests, it can help detect prostate cancer.”

4.Myths and prevention

Gantz said increasing age doesn’t always correlate to an immediate decline in overall health. 

“Many men think that getting older means that they will automatically have underlying medical problems including erectile dysfunction,” said Gantz. “There are many treatments that can help your quality of life.”

Lithotripsy is a procedure used to treat kidney stones that are too large to pass through the urinary tract. Lithotripsy treats kidney stones by sending focused ultrasonic energy or shock waves directly to the stone. The shock waves break a large stone into smaller stones that will pass through the urinary system.

“We have many minimally invasive treatments that have less side effects than previous treatments,” said Gantz. “We have used ultrasound to treat prostate cancer and kidney stones.”

5.Mental health

Men are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to women, according to Men’s Health Network, which attributes part of the blame on underdiagnosed depression. To help men with depression and to reduce the risk of suicide, doctors, loved ones, and men themselves need to recognize that society’s model of masculinity — to ignore pain — can work against men. Looking the other way may trigger depression and thoughts of suicide.

“Some of them are shy and hesitate wanting to reveal personal issues with anyone including their doctors,” he added.