Women, you hold the key to men’s health. I know that sounds like a big job but we need you to encourage the men in your life to live healthier lives. Women, you are simply better advocates of your family’s health and that includes your father, husband, sons or other men you love.
You see, men’s health or lack thereof is a real issue. Every day I see men who have neglected their health for a long time. I have cared for men in their forties, fifties, and older who have not visited a doctor since childhood. This neglect and natural tendency for men to put their health last such as by avoiding checkups, is harming their health. By the time men see me they often have multiple co-morbidities, taking multiple medications, and are experiencing urinary and sexual issues disrupting their lives.
This tendency of men to ignore health issues, reminds of a famous saying from American philosopher Robert M. Hutchins who once said, “Whenever I feel like exercising, I lie down until the feeling passes.”
Women, does this attitude from men in your life sound familiar?
The saying from Hutchins is humorous because it is often true. But, men whose health is being harmed by lack of self-care, is hurting men’s health, both physically and mentally and will ultimately lead to a lower quality and years of life.
This is where I need women to help me talk to and encourage their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and male friends to seek regular health advice, get necessary screenings, and make lifestyle changes to begin the job of taking care of their health.
Here are 5 ways women can be involved in helping men stay healthy:
1. Be mindful of his physical and mental changes
Men often like to think of themselves as mavericks. Independent and strong, it’s a man’s natural tendency. That’s why you should be on the watch for any changes, physical or mentally, you notice in a man that is out of the ordinary. Of course, as a urologist, notice if he’s having bowel or bladder changes such as getting up several times during the night to urinate which might be an enlarged prostate. Or he’s having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection sufficient enough for sexual intercourse likely a sign of erectile dysfunction.
Other physical changes that are important to note include:
- Any unusual lumps
- Changes in urine or stool color
- Persistent backaches
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Extreme fatigue
- Obvious changes in warts or moles
- Recurrent chest pains or headaches
Men may like to remain stoic showing little emotion but on the lookout for these symptoms possibly indicating depression, anxiety, stress, or other mental health issues:
- Becoming overly anxious or irritated
- Having trouble sleeping
- Complaining about feeling sad, helpless, or empty
- Engaging in risky or reckless behavior
- Losing interest in hobbies or sex
2. Work up a sweat together with physical activity
Your man may want to be that person who prefers being a couch potato rather than a star athlete, but you can change that. If it’s been awhile since he’s exercised, begin slowly. Start by saying you want to get in better shape and you need his help by exercising and encouraging each other together. Discuss what activities you both enjoy (e.g. bicycling, swimming, tennis, walking/hiking, dancing), and then set aside days and times of the week for exercise. Remind him that physical activity has so many benefits – healthier, stronger immune system, better sleep, improved heart health, more stamina and endurance, better mood, and an enhanced sex life.
3. Encourage him to get regular checkups
Sometimes men are reluctant to see a doctor for various reasons. Remind him, though, that keeping himself healthy should be a top priority. Many health conditions are “silent” – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and prostate problems often have few if any symptoms but do require treatment. That’s why regular checkups with a primary care physician are so important. Tell your man that investing in his health by establishing a good relationship with a trusted and experienced physician during their twenties, thirties, and beyond will be the most important and life-changing investment he will make. And that investment will have a huge payoff of good health, less chronic pain, less medication use, fewer doctor visits and hospitalization stays, a longer life, and oh yes, great sex too.
Just remember that ultimatums, nagging, or threats are a turn-off for men. This approach can backfire. Also, during a doctor’s visit, avoid speaking for him. Building trust with his doctor is key to an effective doctor-patient relationship. This is his visit; let him talk with his doctor to build that trust and help allay his fears.
4. Make it easy for him to see a doctor
Now, here is where women really shine for helping men’s health. We depend on your organizational skills and that’s why helping him be prepared and making it easy for him when he sees a doctor is critical to getting him there in the first place.
Schedule an appointment with a doctor you trust and who you think is a good fit. Make the time convenient for him and go with him to the appointment if he wants you to. Help him be prepared by making a list of questions he wants answered, any symptoms he is experiencing, and his medical history, including his family’s medical history. Remind him to be honest with the doctor about his lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, sleep, smoking (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, marijuana), and consuming alcohol.
5. Work on lifestyle habits he needs to improve
Each of us always has room for improvement, especially in regards to our health. For instance, maybe your man needs help in eating healthier foods. If so, sit down together and plan a few healthy meals for the week. Go to the grocery store together with the purpose of buying more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and other healthy foods to have on hand. Set out a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or have a variety of nuts or fresh cut-up veggies to snack on.
Set the stage for better sleep for both of you. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine that might include a warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. Other ways to induce good sleep is to avoid stimulants such as caffeine close to bedtime, and create a pleasant sleep environment by turning down the thermostat to 68 degrees or less, keep your bedroom as dark as possible, and power down from all electronics at least one hour before sleep.
Help him learn to stress less. None of us are invincible to stress and men who are feeling the pressure of stress may not say anything about it. For example, men who are trying to meet a work deadline or have worries over financial concerns will have a physical response that is harmful to their health. This might include an increased heart rate, increased blood sugar levels, or increased vulnerability to infections. This is where both men and women can work together to do what it takes to turn down their body’s stress volume. Some ideas for this may include regular exercise, adequate sleep, meditation, and avoiding taking on too many tasks. Stress fighters can also include taking time off for fun, listening to music, laughing more, and learning to see the big picture of life. Better times will return and getting through tough times only makes both men and women, stronger in the long run.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.