Men’s Sexual Health – What is Considered Normal?

An interview with Dr. Nathan Thakur, Medical Director with Copeman Healthcare, a member of the Medisys Health Group.

An interview with Dr. Nathan Thakur, Medical Director with Copeman Healthcare, a member of the Medisys Health Group.

 

Q: So up until about 10-15 years ago, men’s health was a bit of a “taboo” subject. How are you finding it now?

A: We definitely get a lot more patients who are freer with this discussion. They actually bring it to us, and as physicians, we appreciate it. Unfortunately, we do still have a number of men who are a bit intimidated by the topic of men’s health, and so it’s good to be able to talk about it in settings like this to bring more awareness to the issues.

Q: When it comes to libido or sexual relations for men, what are the most common concerns that you hear?

A: The most common concerns may not actually be thought of first and that’s the root causes of the problem. Things like low testosterone levels, excessive sleep and sleep apnea are all symptoms of men’s health issues. The most common concerns that we do tend to hear more about are regarding performance issues or low sex drive, and those of course can lead to relationship difficulties or other issues. It’s a shame because in a lot of cases, it doesn’t have to end up like that.

Q: On the topic of performance-related questions, do you find a lot of people are asking “is this normal” regarding their sexual function? If so, what is normal?

A: There really is no normal. We’re having younger men as early as in their 30’s, all the way up to the end of their life experiencing these issues. That being said, many men who are north of 70 still have preserved sexual function because they’re doing a good job of exercising and just taking care of their bodies. We would love for everyone to be that way, but if they aren’t there are a number of treatments we can use to bring them back up to speed.

Q: What are the most common causes of a decreased libido?

A: Decreased libidos are often related just to age and how hormones change. Testosterone declines north of 50, in addition to decreased amounts of sleep, increased stress, poor diet & exercise, all which have the ability to reduce a man’s vigour. When you don’t have that, you’re not excelling in many parts of your life, especially sexually. The other cause that men don’t often consider is cardiovascular disease. Any time those small blood vessels are affected in your heart, they’re also being affected in your genitals.

Q: What are some of the typical recommendations you give to male clients?

A: When these men come in it’s fairly individualized. We investigate how much of it is due to cardiovascular issues, whether it’s related to low or abnormally low testosterone, or if it’s simply a result of lifestyle factors such as sleep and exercise.

Q: For guys who might think that it’s “just age,” what are some things they can do to correct it?

A: At Copeman the first thing that we do is give them a cardio assessment to determine the root of the problem. As far as treatment goes, there are a few medications out there that can help to establish blood flow, and there is also hormone therapy with testosterone. Our hope at Copeman is that we can help men to feel more confident, and better about their overall health.

Q: What are the main health concerns that you typically hear from men in your practice?

A: We’re finding that a lot of men actually tend to delay coming in to see a physician and, when they do, it tends to be around the 40-year mark. This is when they’re really starting to confront their mortality and are worrying about their heart, prostate, and a lot of the cancers that are more likely to affect them with age (such as colon cancer). This is why we are always trying to be preventative. We want to get to a point where men don’t have to worry about this all the time and feel like they can manage their risk.

Q: Do you find a lot of men come in asking about low testosterone?

A: Yes, it has been much more common lately. Men are feeling a lot more fatigued these days with stress from work and at home, so there is a very large push to optimize testosterone in terms of maximizing a man’s vigour and vitality.

Q: Why is it so important to address the issue of low testosterone?

A: Testosterone levels are so important because they can manifest themselves in so many ways and can have an effect on multiple aspects of life. For example, if you’re not sleeping well, your testosterone can’t replenish itself throughout the night. This alone will cause you to feel fatigued all day. Testosterone can also dip even further as time passes, and can go on to affect sexual vigour in the form of a lower sex drive or sexual function. In response to this, everyone is very quick to jump on the Viagra bandwagon. However, many patients tell me that it didn’t work for them or that it did work, but not very well. This is often another sign of their testosterone being on the lower end of normal, or even well below normal. Finally, addressing low testosterone allows us to optimize a man’s energy and even their strength (as testosterone is a hormone that helps you gain muscle mass). As men are looking towards their future, many are asking themselves if they are going to be able to be as physically active as they were in their youth. Maintaining testosterone is therefore important in achieving that for their health and wellbeing.

Q: What are the ways that you treat low levels of testosterone?

A: The first step to treating low levels of testosterone is diagnosis, which is done through simple blood testing. If we do find lower levels of testosterone (or even if they aren’t below normal just yet), we can issue optimization therapy. The therapy is actually a gel (not a pill) that a man would apply to his shoulders or his muscles on a daily basis. This gets absorbed by the muscles, and has been shown to increase their testosterone levels substantially over a three month period.

Q: What’s your last piece of advice for men out there that might be concerned about their health?

A: I think that prevention is a much overlooked thing nowadays in men’s health, so if you make the time for an annual preventive health assessment, it will be of great benefit to you. It’s not even just about prevention – it’s also about learning something that will put you and your family on a better path for the years to come.


 

 

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