MEN: RESOLVE TO MAKE BETTER HEALTH A PRIORITY IN THE NEW YEAR
It’s that time again! When the new year rolls around, men often turn their attention to improving their health—especially their sexual health. But while we’re often filled with motivation to make changes at the beginning of the year, it’s all too common for that motivation to flag after a couple months. To make sure those resolutions stick, it’s important to understand why we set them in the first place.
For example, a man in his 20s might decide to prioritize safe-sex practices this year. Sex feels better without a condom, so that man might be tempted to bend the rules once in a while. But if he reminds himself that about eighty million people have HPV, he might find it easier to stick to his resolution.
In his 30s, a man might notice that he has more trouble controlling his weight and decide to eat healthier.
As we age, it takes more effort to curb our appetite and keep up with a sensible fitness program, and excess fat—especially around the torso—has been associated with an increased risk of many diseases. These are both great reasons to commit to good eating and exercise habits. To top it off, maintaining a healthy body weight encourages self-confidence; promotes a healthy, positive outlook on life; and leads to better sex. Luckily, simple changes to your diet, like incorporating fiber-rich foods and antioxidants and avoiding simple sugars and saturated fats, can make a huge impact.
However, a man in his 40s—even if he eats kale every day—might begin to worry that diet and exercise isn’t enough and resolve to see his doctor more often. But when life gets in the way throughout the year, it can be hard to keep up that commitment unless he reminds himself why seeing a doctor is so important: the key to successful treatment of prostate cancer is early diagnosis, so it’s critical for men over 40 to regularly see a doctor who can keep track of their prostate health. A healthy prostate is the foundation of healthy sex.
A man in his 50s who is done having children or has decided not to might make a resolution to get a vasectomy. According to the National Institutes of Health, risk of miscarriage and birth defects increases when the male partner is over 35, especially if the female partner is over 35 as well. This risk may be reason enough to consider a vasectomy, but an added benefit of the procedure is that longtime partners often feel more spontaneous and less inhibited without the risk of pregnancy.
Later in life, a man in his 60s or 70s might begin struggling with low libido or erectile dysfunction and decide to investigate testosterone replacement therapy and medicines like Viagra or Cialis. Why? To have better sex, of course. While he might not need much encouragement to stick with that resolution, if he reminds himself that increased sexual activity leads to increased longevity in his age group, he might be quicker to act on his commitment.
Finally, a man in his 80s or beyond might resolve to try the latest medical developments to make the most of his sex life. In addition to Cialis and Viagra, injectable medicines that increase blood flow (like Prostaglandin E1), vacuum erectile devices, and even surgical implants are all possibilities for the motivated and enthusiastic members of the supersenior set. Not all men are healthy enough for sexual intercourse at this age—if you are one of the lucky few, that should be reason enough to enjoy the gift of continued sexual activity with a patient, compassionate partner.
For the new year, don’t just make a list of resolutions—make sure you understand why your resolutions are important. You’ll be much more likely to accomplish your health goals, and your body will thank you this time next year.
Dudley S. Danoff, MD, FACS is the attending urologic surgeon and founder/president of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of The Ultimate Guide To Male Sexual Health. Visit www.theultimateguidetomenshealth.com for more information from Dr. Danoff and to learn about his book.