Men's Health

When it comes to potential problems with their reproductive organs, many men are reluctant to speak with their doctor. They may feel embarrassed, or suffer in silence believing there is no treatment for their specific condition.  

It’s important to know that men’s health problems  are, in fact, quite common. Moreover, numerous treatment options exist today for a wide range of medical issues. Not only can these treatments help improve your life, but — depending on your situation — they may even help save your life.  

So don’t put off talking to your doctor. Take a proactive approach to your health, and use the information on this page to educate yourself about common male health conditions and symptoms. 

Enlarged Prostate or BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is the term for an enlarged prostate. Normally, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. But for many men, the prostate continues to grow with age.  

Enlarged Prostate Symptoms

What does the prostate do? Its primary function is to produce semen. Located beneath a man’s bladder, the prostate surrounds the urethra—the tube responsible for carrying urine and semen out of the body. 

When the prostate becomes enlarged, it can put extra pressure on the urethra. This may cause a range of symptoms, including: 

  • Frequent urination 
  • A feeling that the bladder is always full 
  • A weak or halting urine flow 
  • Difficulty starting urine flow
  • Getting up at night several times to urinate 

Enlarged Prostate Treatment

Though an enlarged prostate may start out as an annoyance, treatment is necessary, as BPH can worsen over time. Eventually, the condition may cause bladder damage. Treatment is especially critical if you reach the point where you are unable to urinate at all. 

The best treatment for enlarged prostate depends on your individual situation, but options include medical therapies (such as alpha blockers like tamsulosin) and surgery (including minimally invasive surgical operations). If BPH is in the early stages and causing only mild symptoms, your doctor may suggest postponing treatment until more bothersome or serious symptoms appear. Your condition will then be monitored on a regular basis to determine when treatment should begin. 

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer occurs when a cell in the prostate undergoes a change — causing it to multiply uncontrollably. In many cases, prostate cancer grows slowly. But it can sometimes grow rapidly and spread to other areas. For this reason, it’s extremely important to notify your doctor if you believe you may have prostate cancer.  

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

In its early stages, prostate cancer rarely exhibits any symptoms. But eventually, you may start to develop pain in various areas of the body.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Discussions about prostate cancer screening should generally occur when a man reaches 50 years of age. If you are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer, you may want to start discussing screening as early as 40 years of age. 

Screening for prostate cancer includes a blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (or PSA) blood test. Your doctor may also do a digital rectal exam (DRE). Depending on the results of your PSA and DRE, a biopsy might be required as well. 

Prostate Cancer Treatment

Due to the slow growth that is typical of prostate cancer, it’s possible you may not need treatment. If this is the case, your condition will be monitored on a regular basis. 

For those who do require treatment, options include surgery, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, focal therapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The best treatment option will depend on your cancer stage and risk category, as well as your overall health, age and preferences.

Testicular Cancer

The testicles are two glands that hang in a sac (called the scrotum) beneath a man’s penis. Their purpose is to create sperm and male hormones.  

Sometimes, a cell in one of the testicles may become altered — causing it to multiply and grow uncontrollably. This is called testicular cancer. If the cancer is not treated, it can damage surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body. 

Testicular Cancer Risk Factors

The causes of testicular cancer are not yet fully understood, but you may be at a higher risk for the disease if you: 

  • Are between the ages of 15 and 35
  • Are Caucasian 
  • Have a history of an undescended testicle 
  • Have a family history of testicular cancer
  • Have HIV 

Testicular Cancer Symptoms

One of the most common signs of testicular cancer is a lump in one of the testicles. You might also experience a change in the feel or texture of your testicle, fluid buildup in the scrotum, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum or pain in your testicles, scrotum, lower belly or groin. 

Some men also report breast growth and a decreased interest in sex, while younger males might develop facial and body hair at an abnormally early age. 

The symptoms are different for everyone, so be sure to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or something you believe may indicate testicular cancer. 

Testicular Cancer Treatment

For most cases of testicular cancer, the initial course of treatment is to surgically remove the testicle. Sometimes, surgery will be followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy. 

Depending on whether or not you plan to have children, you may want to ask your doctor about sperm banking before beginning any treatments. While infertility issues usually don’t arise after the removal of one testicle, radiation therapy and chemotherapy do have the potential to negatively impact your ability to father a child. 

Vasectomy

What is a vasectomy? A vasectomy is a minor operation that prevents pregnancy by stopping a man’s sperm from entering his semen. Aside from abstinence, it is currently the most effective form of birth control available.  

How Vasectomies Work

In normal conditions, sperm is created in the testicles and stored in the epididymis. When the ejaculation process begins, mature sperm leave the epididymis and travel through a set of tubes called the vas deferens. 

Vasectomies work by interfering with the sperm’s journey through the vas deferens. During the vasectomy procedure , your Urologist will access the vas deferens via a no-scalpel technique. The vas deferens will then be cut. No stitches are required for the procedure.

After the operation, sperm will not be able to travel through the vas deferens, and will instead simply be absorbed into the body. 

Vasectomy Effectiveness

Are vasectomies 100% effective? The short answer is no. Though they are more effective than any other form of birth control, pregnancy can still happen — especially in the first few months following a vasectomy. During this time, residual sperm in the upper part of your vas deferens may still leave the body during ejaculation. Your semen will need to be analyzed after the procedure to ensure its sperm-free.

It’s also possible (though highly unlikely) that sperm will manage to traverse the gap between a cut vas deferens and find its way into your semen. 

Male Fertility

Male fertility refers to a man’s ability to produce children. Normally, your testicles create sperm, and the sperm travel through a system of tubes before leaving the body. But some men suffer from infertility, or the inability to produce children. This is generally due to the body being unable to make, grow or transmit sperm successfully.  

Causes of Male Infertility

What causes infertility in men? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. In some cases, a man’s body may produce only very small amounts of sperm, or no sperm at all. For men who do produce sperm, the sperm may be abnormally shaped or not fully grown. The sperm may also move in irregular ways. Additionally, blockages can prevent sperm from leaving the body. 

The reasons for these problems are as varied as the problems themselves. Lifestyle, illnesses, infections, medications and birth defects are just a few possible reasons for infertility issues. 

How Male Infertility is Diagnosed

Because there are so many possible reasons for male infertility, determining the root cause of each individual case can be difficult. Along with a physical exam, your doctor may also do a: 

  • Semen analysis 
  • Transrectal ultrasound 
  • Testicular biopsy 
  • Hormonal profile 

Male Infertility Treatments

Depending on the cause of infertility, treatments may include medication or non-surgical therapies. Surgical therapies may also be used — for instance, to treat swollen veins (which can aid in sperm numbers and transport) or to fix blockages. 

Low Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone responsible for helping men develop male features, such as muscle mass and facial hair. Testosterone also affects a man’s sex drive, mood and sperm production. If you have low testosterone (or hypogonadism), it simply means the level of testosterone in your body is lower than normal. 

Low Testosterone Symptoms

Signs that you may have low testosterone include weak erections, low sex drive, low energy, depression, an increase in body fat and a decrease in muscle mass. 

Low Testosterone Causes

You have a greater risk for low testosterone if you: 

  • Are diabetic 
  • Have high blood pressure and/or cholesterol 
  • Are overweight 
  • Have HIV or AIDS 
  • Have used opioids for an extended period of time

Low Testosterone Treatment and Diagnosis

Low testosterone is diagnosed with a blood test. Your doctor will likely order a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test as well to rule out any possibility of prostate cancer. 

Treatment to increase testosterone levels is available, though whether or not you choose to use such treatment is entirely up to you. If you do wish to move forward with treatment, options include skin gel, patches and shots. Pellets can also be placed inside your body. 

A range of side effects may accompany testosterone replacement therapy (such as acne, testicle shrinkage and infertility), so speak with your doctor about the pros and cons before beginning treatment. 

Erectile Dysfunction

What is erectile dysfunction? Sometimes called impotence, this term refers to a man’s inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. 

Erectile Dysfunction Causes

Doctors have identified three main causes for erectile dysfunction: 

  • Insufficient blood flow into the penis. This may be caused by smoking, heart disease or diabetes. 
  • Inability to store blood in the penis. In this case, a man may get an erection initially, but then be unable to maintain it. 
  • Nerve signal failure. Messages from the brain or spinal cord may not be delivered to or received by the penis. This could be the result of diabetes, illness, injury or surgery. 

Erectile Dysfunction Treatments

Treatment for erectile dysfunction usually consists of an oral medication. Additional treatment options include injectable medications, vacuum erection devices, surgery and penile implants. 

It’s important to note that stress, anxiety or depression may also play a role in erectile dysfunction. If this is the case, speaking with a mental health professional may be helpful. 

Whatever the cause for your erectile dysfunction, healthy habits (working out, eating healthy, quitting smoking, etc.) should also be implemented to better help you reach optimal sexual function. 

Expert Help is Available at Sauk Prairie Healthcare

Whatever men’s health condition you may be facing, our Urologist  can help. We will make you feel comfortable talking about your concerns, and we will take the time to answer any questions you may have. If treatment is necessary, we will work with you to determine the best plan of action so you can experience optimal outcomes.  

Don’t suffer in silence. Schedule an appointment today. Call 608-643-7262.

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