Hey Guys, Let’s Talk Men’s Health

Hey Guys, Let’s Talk Men’s Health

Yes, it is time for a checkup. We know it can be difficult for men to talk about mental and physical health with doctors because there is a fear of judgment or awkwardness, but this silence can lead to poor treatment outcomes and higher mortality rates. Sure you’re tough, but there is no shame in discussing your mental or physical health with your doctor — it can help improve your quality of life.   

Men should communicate with their healthcare providers to not only take care of their own mental and physical health, but also the sexual health of their partners. Many men are embarrassed about discussing issues such as erectile dysfunction or loss of libido because they perceive it as a sign that something is wrong with them personally, but by avoiding these topics, physical and mental health can worsen. 

Your mental health can also be tied to your sexual health. By treating your mental health, you can improve your sexual health and your quality of intimacy.  

Understanding Emotional and Mental Health 

Guys, we know mental health may feel more difficult to discuss with your healthcare provider, but your mental wellness is just as important as your physical health. Having an honest conversation with your doctor about your mental wellbeing and emotions can help improve your treatment and overall health. Be sure to bring it up with your doctor if you have  

Treatment for ED can range from diet changes, stress management tips, a reduced use of alcohol, or prescription medications. Sildenafil and Tadalafil are the generic versions of Viagra and Cialis. They have the same effectiveness as the name-brand, without the same wallet-breaking cost. 

• Concerns over stigmas tied to certain prescriptions 

• Depression, stress, or anxiety 

• Struggles with alcohol or substance abuse 

• Physical, emotional, or mental abuse from someone close to you, or online 

Your mental health can also be tied to your sexual health. By treating your mental health, you can improve your sexual health and your quality of intimacy.  

Erectile Dysfunction 

ED affects an estimated 30 million men in the United States. That is one in ten men, or the entire population of Texas! While it is not uncommon for a man to struggle with an erection once in a while, an ongoing problem should be addressed with a healthcare provider. Sometimes an underlying condition can be the cause of ED (such as hypertension, the use of certain prescriptions like antidepressants, or diabetes). Diet, lack of exercise, stress, and alcohol and tobacco use can also be the cause of ongoing ED.  

Treatment for ED can range from diet changes, stress management tips, a reduced use of alcohol, or prescription medications. Sildenafil and Tadalafil are the generic versions of Viagra and Cialis. They have the same effectiveness as the name-brand, without the same wallet-breaking cost. 

New or Worsening Pain and Abnormal Symptoms 

It may feel easier to believe a new symptom will disappear on its own, but it is important to communicate any health changes with your healthcare provider. Sometimes an unusual symptom can be a sign of a bigger problem and catching it earlier can help prevent future health problems. These unusual symptoms can range from urination changes like leakage or pain in the lower abdomen, to tenderness, swelling, or pain in the testicles.  

Men, when it comes to your health, you should be honest with not only yourself, but with your healthcare provider. Be open about any symptoms or concerns that might affect how you feel, physically and mentally, in order to get the best treatment for yourself. Your sexual health is crucial to having better physical and mental health, so it is important to communicate whether you are at risk for contracting HIV, or if you have struggled consistently with erectile dysfunction. Your healthcare provider can also help by evaluating your mental health and addressing any of your personal concerns.  

HIV Prevention 

Men who engage in anal sex, already have STI’s, and who share needles or syringes while using intravenous drugs are all at risk for contracting HIV. HIV affects the immune system and can lead to AIDS. When it comes to preventing HIV, there are a few different options you can take. Your medical provider may recommend practicing safe sex with proper condom use, or they may suggest starting a PrEP prescription. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and is up to 99% effective at preventing the contraction of HIV when taken correctly.  

According to HIV.gov, one in seven individuals in the US are living with HIV and are unaware of their infection. It is important to start your HIV prevention journey by knowing your current HIV status. In order to start a PrEP prescription, you must test negative for HIV. PrEP is a preventative treatment and only is effective if the PrEP regimen is adhered to.  

Those who have sexual partners with unknown HIV status, or a partner who is HIV positive, qualify for PrEP.  

“The New Normal” and Mental Health

“The New Normal” and Mental Health

It is hard to believe that it has been over eighteen months since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the globe. It has taken us all by storm, and we are still not sure what the long-term effects will be. With the pandemic continuing to be unpredictable and largely uncharted territory, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all that we do not know or understand. How exactly has COVID-19 and the new Delta variant affected mental health, and how can we focus on not only healthcare, but also self-care?  

When COVID-19 first hit, the mental health of the general public suffered. The CDC reported that an astounding 40.9% of the US population had anxiety or depressive symptoms because of the pandemic. Despite the year of stress and uncertainty, things seemed to start looking up with the release of the vaccinations. Restrictions were lifted; we started to socialize more when it was safe, we were able to grab coffee with friends and visit with loved ones. It seemed like everything was getting back to pre-COVID normal. 

Now, with the rise of the more contagious Delta variant, people are starting to fear going out again. This extreme emotional switch between optimism and worry was dubbed “pandemic flux syndrome” by the Washington Post. Our tentative freedom was restricted again. Some businesses started to require proof of vaccination in order to enter; offices pushed back to working from home.  

So, what is this doing for mental health? 

This prolonged pandemic stress is leaving people to feel less in control, more aggravated, and depressed. Anxiety symptoms are starting to return to people in full force. However, it’s possible to make it through and come out the other side mentally stronger. Here are some tips for practicing self-care and improving your mental wellbeing: 

Mental Health Means a Moving Body 

We all know that exercise is good for our physical health, but it also has a positive impact on your mental well-being. This is called the “runner’s high”. By breaking out into a sweat and pumping some iron, or by sprinting around in circles like you are five years old again, endorphins are released and help improve your mood. Even a little bit of exercise can go a long way. It can be as simple as a short walk or a quick 10-minute stretch. Working out also distracts your mind from worries, boosts your confidence, and helps you cope with stress in a healthy way.

Practice Mindfulness 

 Practicing mindfulness is one of the easiest ways to bring more joy into your daily life. Mindfulness helps you slow down and appreciate what you have around you. Start your days off by meditating on something small like breathing deeply before getting out of bed, or just writing about ten things you are thankful for during the day. It’s easy to get caught up in memories of the past or worry about the future, but mindfulness brings us back to the present moment. 

Eating healthy has a myriad of benefits for both body and mind.

Fuel Your Body to Boost Your Mood 

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help improve your mood and promote cognitive function. A healthy diet includes everything from leafy greens and berries to beans, whole grains, lean protein and, yes, even healthy fats. However, it’s best to avoid processed foods since they are high in refined sugars.  

Our brains and guts are connected- what affects one affects the other. A healthy gut biome leads to improved cognitive function and a lifted mood. Foods and drinks high in both prebiotics and probiotics are great for balancing gut and mental health. This includes onions, kombucha, yogurt, garlic, bananas, and more!  

Connecting with nature helps alleviate stress and encourages a reset of the day.

Get Outside 

Research suggests that exposure to natural environments leads to a decline in anxiety levels. Getting outside means going for a walk, starting a small garden, or just basking in the sun. Spending at least 120 minutes (about 2 hours) outside per week greatly improves mental well-being. If you live in a climate that makes it harder to spend time outside, you can substitute with Vitamin D supplements, or special lighting in your home.  

Start a new hobby 

Maybe baking your own sourdough loaves didn’t last long during the first wave of the pandemic, but finding a new hobby is a great way to cope with stress and even help you find a new community to socialize with online. Painting, photography, listening to music or learning how to play an instrument are all creative hobbies that can help improve mental health and stress coping skills.  

The new Delta variant has left us all feeling unsure about the future, but with some self-care techniques, it’s completely possible for all of us to thrive through this challenge and build our resilience.  

We want to hear from you. What has been your experience with coping with COVID-19 or the new Delta variant? Do any of these suggestions resonate with you?