Addressing 3 Common Male Health Conditions

Addressing 3 Common Male Health Conditions

Traditionally, men seek medical care less frequently than women do. ‘Manly’ masculine ideals like being tough or self-reliant are often cited as barriers to men’s use of healthcare services. Particularly in the older generation of men, there is often the perception that health issues are bound to happen with age, resulting in a mindset to just let it be.

However, the younger generation is making a shift towards personal health and wellness. These days, men tend to be more health-conscious and medically receptive, desiring to age gracefully and look and feel younger for a longer period. Apart from general health, men have a unique range of health concerns that apply to them. Here are three men’s health conditions that I commonly encounter in my practice.

  • TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (TDS)
  • ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED)
  • BALANITIS

Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TDS)

Also known as hypogonadism, TDS is a condition where a man’s body does not produce sufficient testosterone, the primary male hormone. This condition generally affects older men but can happen in younger patients as well. TDS is commonly referred to as “andropause”, but strictly speaking, this is an inaccurate term because unlike menopause in women, TDS is not an inevitable result of ageing.

TDS symptoms include reduced libido, poor energy levels, erectile issues, and mood swings. Men may find themselves putting on weight easily, while maintaining muscle mass becomes more difficult. TDS also affects memory and cognitive focus, which may translate into poorer work performance. These symptoms may be mild in early stages, but when testosterone levels get severely low, may be extremely debilitating and significantly affect a man’s quality of life.

When a specific cause for TDS is identified, treatment can be focused on that cause. In cases where no specific cause can be identified, Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is the most common treatment option. TRT raises the body’s testosterone levels through regular administration of testosterone. The treatment aims to normalise testosterone levels and eliminate TDS symptoms. Many men whom I have treated often describe that the difference with and without TRT is night and day, and TRT has allowed them to regain control of their life and feel confident and “young” again.

  • TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (TDS)
  • ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED)
  • BALANITIS

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

ED is the inability to obtain or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse or activity. It is the most common form of male sexual dysfunction and is increasingly prevalent with age, affecting approximately 40% of men by age 40 and nearly 70% by age 70.

Male sexual arousal is a complex process that involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. ED can result from a problem with any of these. Likewise, stress and mental health concerns can cause or worsen the problem. ED can be an early sign of more serious underlying health issues like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

There are several complications that can arise due to ED. It can lead to unwanted stress, anxiety, and embarrassment, and drastically reduce a man’s self-confidence. An unsatisfactory sex life may leave both a man and his partner feeling immensely frustrated, potentially causing cracks in the relationship, and even worse, end some relationships. Also, couples trying to conceive may find difficulty doing so because of a man’s ED.

The first step in treating ED is to identify health conditions that might be causing or contributing to the ED. Sometimes, correcting the underlying cause may resolve ED altogether. A quick, short-term relief for ED is oral treatment like Viagra. Oral medications can be relied upon dependably as a confidence booster for many men. Other treatments include low intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy, intracavernosal injections, and surgery as a last resort.

  • TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (TDS)
  • ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION (ED)
  • BALANITIS

Balanitis

Balanitis refers to inflammation of the glans penis, or head of the penis. When both the glans and the foreskin are inflamed, it is referred to more precisely as Balanoposthitis. Approximately 10% of males will experience Balanitis during their lifetime. Balanitis is more likely to occur in uncircumcised men and boys under the age of four.

Balanitis primarily affects uncircumcised males because the glans is covered by the foreskin most of the time and the lack of aeration causes excess moisture and warmth. If phimosis (tight foreskin) is present, it is difficult to retract the foreskin fully to clear away smegma, which is a layer of whitish debris that develops naturally due to dead skin cells and sebum. These contribute to the ideal conditions for yeast and bacteria to grow. Poor or inadequate personal hygiene leading to such infections is therefore the most common cause of Balanitis.

The symptoms of Balanitis include itching, irritation, discomfort, red dots, or red patches on the glans or foreskin. This may be accompanied by painful urination, and oftentimes there is a foul smell due to the presence of smegma build-up.

The treatment for Balanitis depends on the cause. Treatments usually include topical antifungal, antibiotic, and steroid ointments. In more severe cases, oral medications may be required. The best long-term treatment solution for Balanitis would be a circumcision procedure. Removing the foreskin allows for easy maintenance of one’s hygiene and makes it very unlikely for yeast and bacteria to grow on the glans penis in the future.

Dr. Edwin Ong has 10 years of experience working as a physician. He holds the qualifications of Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery, and Graduate Diploma in Family Medicine. He is a member of College of Family Physicians Singapore and Society of Men’s Health Singapore. He is also the founder of RMDY Clinic, a medical and wellness clinic in Singapore that focuses on preventive healthcare through holistic and integrative solutions that encompass lifestyle, dietary, and medical considerations.

 

 

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