Men's Health - Problems, Symptoms, Treatments, Homeopathic Remedies
Men's health is a complicated area, partly because of the role that lifestyle choices play in the prevalence of certain maladies, such as heart disease. Misperceptions play a role as well. There is a general belief, for example, that heart disease and heart attacks primarily constitute a male problem, when in fact they afflict women at a high rate as well, with females roughly 6 times as likely to die of heart disease as of breast cancer - albeit women experience heart problems about 10 years later than men do on average. So heart health cannot truly be thought of as essentially a men's health issue, but rather a health concern that requires more early diligence from men with regard to lifestyle, diet, exercise, and other contributing factors.
Men tend to die younger than women, with an average life-expectancy gap of 5.3 years in 2003. However, that figure has been diminishing; the differential in 1979, for example, was 7.8 years. Many experts still consider this gap a mystery, but some reasons that have been offered are males' higher rates of drinking, driving, smoking, violence, stress, occupational hazards, and military service. Also, women might have some biological features rendering them inclined to greater longevity.
When we address men's health issues, we limit ourselves here to issues specific to the gender. A topic that receives a lot of attention among men is impotence, especially as it relates to erectile dysfunction (ED). But women have sexual behavior, performance, and response issues as well. We address this wide topic in detail on our sexual health page. Another category that many men are concerned about is sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - such as genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, and more - which will also be covered on the sexual health page.
But perhaps the best known single affliction that men alone are subject to is prostate gland problems. This gland, which produces an essential portion of semen, is prone to enlargement (especially after the age of 50), infection (prostatitis), and cancer. Its enlargement, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is extremely common in aging men - it has even been likened to male menopause - while prostatitis is the main prostate problem younger men face. Symptoms of prostatitis include burning during and/or more frequent urination, and treatment for the condition sometimes includes the prescription of alpha blockers.
The precise mechanism that drives prostate growth in aging men is still poorly understood but is generally thought to involve the hormonal shifts that occur over time - juts as hormonal signals around puberty cause the gland to double in size. By the age of 80, about 85% of men have some signs of BPH. As the prostate grows, it often constricts urine flow, so symptoms of BPH usually involve urination: retention, increased incidence, burning, dribbling, incontinence, etc. It also can cause urine to pool in the bladder, wherein it forms a suitable medium for bacteria to proliferate and induce infections - at the very worst, a potentially deadly uremia. The most common clinical test to determine whether there are prostate problems is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, but it alone is insufficient to distinguish between BPH conditions and cancerous or precancerous situations.
Conventional treatment of prostate problems varies, but includes a number of surgical procedures: simple catheterization (for urine retention); transurethral microwave procedures, needle ablation, and other surgery; prostectomy; and laser surgery. The most common surgery is a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Lifestyle modifications are routinely suggested such as sitting while urinating, controlling alcohol intake, and not drinking in the evening.
There are many alternative, integrative approaches to maintaining a healthy prostate gland. Dietary guidelines can have a significant impact, with foods such as tomatoes, soy, and omega-3-oil-rich fish highly recommended, and natural supplements such as saw palmetto and stinging nettle extracts are purportedly very helpful too in reducing prostate problems and swelling, as are bee pollen, goldenseal, spinach, Vitamin E, and zinc.
Among the many homeopathic remedies for prostate difficulties include Apis mellifica, Causticum, Clematis, Lycopodium, Pulsatilla, Sabal serrulata, Staphysagria, Conium [Con], Sabal serrulata [Sabal], Ferrum picratum [Ferr-p], Chimaphila [Chim], and Thuja [Thuj]. Some of the variables involved in selecting an ideal remedy include whether urinating is difficult or frequent, urine flow is intermittent, or pain is evident. As with all homeopathic treatment, the whole person is taken into consideration, rather than addressing the symptoms alone; the patient's "constitutional" factors are also paramount. A skillful homeopath will select a remedy that will alleviate the symptoms of BPH or other prostate problems and diminish their frequency.