Common Men’s Health Myths Heard by a Urologist
Movember and no-shave November are common terms used throughout the month. Many men rally behind the excuse to avoid shaving, but few are aware of the movement’s origin.
Movember was initially founded in Australia as a means to bring awareness to men’s health. During the month of November, men grow out their facial hair in an effort to raise awareness to other men on the biggest health issues they may face in their lifetime: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. Since its inception in 2003, the Movember movement has grown in number and notoriety, celebrated by over 5 million people in over 20 countries.
To join in this movement and support the practice of educating men on their health, I am sharing common men’s health myths I hear from my patients every day.
Myth: “The only reason to visit a urologist is if I want a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal.”
Fact: Urologists have a much broader scope of work and focus on overall men’s health with a specific interest in the kidneys, bladder, prostate, sexual health, and fertility. Incidentally, I see both men and women for various conditions involving these organs as well as for fertility issues.
Myth: “I do not need to take any further precautions when it comes to my health. My general practitioner will check for all potential issues.”
Fact: If there is something you are particularly concerned with or have a strong family history of, you should reach out to an expert in that field. If it is a sexual health and/or fertility related issue, seeing a urologist is ideal. If you see something unusual or concerning, seek out expert advice.
Myth: “Erectile dysfunction is a condition that only affects older men.”
Fact: Erectile dysfunction is common and not limited to a specific age group. Erectile dysfunction is not only defined as the inability to get an erection. It also includes the declining ability to sustain an erection. Obesity, diabetes, and smoking are risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Younger men are not immune to experiencing erectile dysfunction.
Myth: “Energy boosting drinks, such as Red Bull, Pre-Workout, or Monster do not affect sperm count.”
Fact: Taken in moderation, most energy drinks should not have a large effect on overall health, nor specifically on sperm count. Energy and workout “fuels” used in moderation are rarely problematic. An excess of any of these, however, could potentially be detrimental to your overall health and certainly sperm health.
Myth: “Weight doesn’t affect fertility.”
Fact: Historically, most physicians did not think weight affected male fertility. However, an influx of research recently suggests otherwise. Obesity can affect sexual health and male fertility just as much as it can affect female fertility.
Myth: “Age doesn’t affect male fertility in the same way it affects female fertility.”
Fact: Paternal age does not have as profound an impact on sperm quality as it does on egg quality. However, we now know that increased paternal age may affect the genetics of the progeny. Risk factors for schizophrenia, autism, and Down Syndrome can be associated with advanced paternal age.
Myth: “Physical activity can harm my sperm production.”
Fact: Staying in shape and keeping a normal body mass index (BMI) is critical for male sexual health and fertility. Cardiovascular exercises such as biking and running are thought to promote health and wellness without compromising spermatogenesis.
Myth: “Lack of sleep can affect my sperm count.”
Fact: Fortunately for all you sleep deprived men, sperm count should not be compromised by a lack of sleep. However, prolonged periods of exhaustion can be correlated with diminished testosterone levels. Low testosterone can affect men’s overall sexual health, including sperm production.
Myth: “Only a doctor can perform cancer screenings.”
Fact: Self-exams are critical and can be done in the comfort of your own home. Testicular cancer is the number one cancer among young men. Even if the testicular cancer is advanced or metastatic, surgery and chemotherapy can result in a cure. Any changes or abnormalities you experience should be addressed with your physician immediately.
Myth: “If I do receive a cancer diagnosis or need to receive treatment that can potentially harm my sperm production, there is nothing I can do to preserve my fertility.”
Fact: Just as women can preserve their fertility by freezing eggs, men can preserve fertility by freezing sperm. The advantage of this preservation is to allow you to decide when to grow your family. Fortunately, the technology for achieving a family even with compromised male fertility is excellent.
There are many other resources available if you wish to learn more about how you can improve and maintain your overall health. If you are interested in learning more about your sexual health, fertility, and fertility options, make an appointment.