Health & lifestyle
Taking care "down there"
We all know that your body changes as you get older. Some of it we just accept as a part of life, and other things, the ones perhaps a bit more personal and private, we often tend to ignore, hoping that they will go away. But of course ignoring the problem does not make it go away. The male reproductive health system plays a key role in many areas of wellbeing and like with many health issues, early detection and treatment of problems is really important.
So what are the problems we are talking about, or as is often the case, not talking about? Is there something that you should be following up with your doctor?
Changes in urination
A common experience for older men is to begin to experience changes with their urination. It could be a need to urinate more often or that the urge to urinate is so intense that you can’t reach the toilet in time. For some the urine stream is slow to start, while for others the bladder never feels like it is empty. These are just some of the problems that men commonly report.
About one in seven Australian men over 40 years of age will suffer from problems with their prostate. The most common prostate disease is a non cancerous enlargement of the prostate called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Although not usually life threatening, BPH can make going to the toilet (urination) difficult and life uncomfortable.
Symptoms such as inability to urinate, painful urination, blood in urine, or any discharge form the penis should all be followed up by your doctor.
Both medicines and surgery can be given by a doctor to make the symptoms of prostate disease better. However, not all urination problems are caused by the prostate, so it’s important to see your doctor.
Visit Andrology Australia's website for more information about prostate enlargement.
Sometimes, when the problems are simple and do not bother you too much you can change some of your habits to ease the symptoms, some suggestions include:
- Reviewing your fluid intake. It is important to remain well hydrated but decreasing the amount you drink can sometimes help – but you have to make sure you get the balance right. If you are not sure how much you should be drinking in a day check with your doctor
- Limit drinks that contain caffeine – like coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks
- Limit alcohol
- Learn pelvic floor and bladder retraining exercises; they may help to ease some urinary symptoms. See your doctor for advice.
Prostate cancer is malignant tissue that grows in the prostate gland and most often occurs in men over the age of 50. As men get older, the prostate may become larger. This benign growth can squeeze the urethra and cause men to have difficulties urinating.
For more information, look at:
- Our video interview with a specialist talking about prostate cancer
- Andrology Australia's fact sheet on prostate cancer diagnosis
- The "Diet and prostate cancer: food for thought?" article, page 5 of Andrology Australia's 2011 winter edition newsletter
- Prostate cancer hormone treatment explained
Sexual problems in men are more common than you might think. About one in five men over the age of 40 have problems getting or keeping an erection. Erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to get and/or keep an erection that allows sexual activity with penetration. While there are many factors that influence your sexual performance it is importnat to remember that simple things like drinking too much alcohol, anxiety and tiredness can all affect a man’s sexual performance.
There are many treatments for erectile dysfunction, but talking to your partner and your doctor is the most important first step. Even if the cause is a physical one, getting some counseling or emotional support is an important part of treatment.
More information is available on Andrology Australia's fact sheet on erectile problems.
Interview with A/Prof. Douglas Lording
A/Prof. Lording introduces the topic of andrology and also talks about erectile dysfunction.
Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual problem for men. It is a lack of control over ejaculation so that it often happens sooner than the man or his partner would want, causing distress for one or other of them. Premature ejaculation is only a problem if it happens frequently.
Like erectile dysfunction there are a range of possible reasons for premature ejaculation. More information is available on Andrology Australia's fact sheet on premature ejaculation.
If your sex life is not how you want it to be then talking to your doctor can be a good starting point. The doctor can help you to work out what and why it is happening, but most importantly, what can be done to get you back to the satisfying sex life that you hope for.
Women aren’t the only ones to experience changes in their hormone levels as they get older – men can too. Men’s testosterone levels fall much less and more gradually then women over time but for some this change in testosterone levels can significantly impact their quality of life. Symptoms like low energy, mood swings, irritability, poor concentration, reduced muscle strength or bone density, and a lack of interest in sex can be signs of low testosterone levels, a condition also known as testosterone deficiency.
In some older men testosterone levels fall to a point that treatment is needed. Testosterone deficiency can only be diagnosed by a doctor, who can give treatment in the form of injections, implants, capsules, patches or gels.
For more information:
- Andrology Australia's webpage on low testosterone
- The "Male menopause – debunking the myth" article, page 3 of Andrology Australia's 2011 winter edition newsletter
Want to know more?
To help you find out more about the causes, prevention, detection and management of male reproductive issues we have put together some relevant links and resources.
This article was based on information sourced from Andrology Australia .
Fri, 28th October 2011, Physical and mental health