As each birthday passes, men need to take action to stay healthy, beyond going to the gym and eating well. Getting annual wellness exams, receiving necessary health screens and staying on top of low testosterone levels help men stay healthy through the years.
Low Testosterone (Low-T)
You’ve likely seen an advertisement on how testosterone declines as men age and how the solution is taking a testosterone replacement. Each birthday after 30 means a decrease in testosterone levels by approximately 1 percent. That means by age 60 your testosterone level will be about 30% lower than what it was when you were a young man.
“We see a lot of men with low testosterone over the age of 40. They come in complaining of fatigue, muscle weakness, depression or a decreasing libido. Generally, they are feeling pretty bad by the time they come in because their symptoms have accumulated for a while,” said Kimberly Collymore, RN, MSN, FNP, Family Nurse Practitioner with Prowers Medical Center Clinic.
Symptoms of Low-T include hair loss, fatigue, low semen production, lowered sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, infertility, loss of muscle and bone mass, mood swings and increased body fat. Some men see testosterone replacement as a fountain of youth—a way to reverse typical results of aging and make them feel young and virile once again. While it may seem cut and dry that you should replace the testosterone you lose as you age, it’s not. There are unwanted side effects, such as problems sleeping, decreased sperm production and enlarged breasts—and studies on the safety of taking testosterone supplements are not conclusive. Talk with your provider about whether or not testosterone therapy is right for you.
Men’s Health Screens through the Years
Each year at your annual wellness exam you may receive screenings for cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. By the time you turn 50, you will likely also talk with your provider about prostate cancer screening and colon cancer screening. When you are younger, make sure you screen for testicular cancer as well.
“Starting in their 20s and into their 30s, young men should screen for testicular cancer because that’s when we see the most cases of it. Doing a monthly testicular cancer self-screen is just as important for men as monthly self-breast exams are for women,” Collymore said.
According to the Testicular Cancer Society (www.testicularcancersociety.org) men should perform the monthly test in the shower or in front of a mirror to check for any bumps, lumps or irregularities on the surface of each testicle. The society provides directions on their website.
Annual Wellness Exams
It’s important to get an annual exam to check your vitals and lab work. Doing so creates a baseline from which future tests can be compared, and also ensures that high blood pressure or high cholesterol are not creeping up on you, among other concerns.
“The biggest benefit to getting an annual wellness check is catching conditions early, before they become serious, and making preventive changes. Our goal is to help men stay healthy so they can avoid issues later in life,” Collymore said.
Catching the warning signs of diabetes, obesity and heart disease means you can stop or slow the progression of the disease. Collymore also recommends men get a depression screening as part of their wellness exam.
“Men often have a different expression of anxiety and depression than women. While women might get emotional or weepy, men tend to lose energy or feel angry and irritable,” she added.
To make an appointment at Prowers Medical Center Clinic, call 719-336-6767.