You don't need a TV show to tell you that most men hate going to the doctor. It's like asking for directions - it just doesn't seem in their DNA. But what you may not know is how much about their health men are keeping from you.
Whether they're worried it will make them seem less manly, scared what the doctor will say, or just think it's their job to be strong and silent, American men are damaging their families and their health by hiding important medical information. Here are their 3 biggest secrets and how you can help them break the silence.
The Big One
Nobody wants to talk about it, but almost every man experiences it at some point in their life - the inability to get or maintain an erection. In fact, new research shows that Erectile Dysfunction affects more than half of men over the age of 60, and nearly 20% of men over the age of 20. So why aren't they talking about it?
Experts say that most men blame themselves, thinking that emotions are at the root of the problem. But most cases of ED result from medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking, which is one of the reasons (beyond keeping your sex life healthy) that it's important to address it.
The solution: There are several effective treatments for ED from well-known medications such as Viagra and Cialis (which increase blood flow to the penis) to medication injected in the base of the penis and, even, penile implants. Sometimes addressing underlying issues such as weight or alcohol consumption can help as well. Learn more about the Beer Gut Diet for a guy-friendly weight-loss plan.
A Pressing Issue
It's a normal part of getting older: as men age, their prostate (the walnut-shaped gland under the bladder that helps produce semen) begins to thicken, compressing the urethra and making it difficult for urine to pass through. So men may go to the bathroom constantly, but take a long time to actually urinate or finish - and feel like they have to go again right away.
The solution: Though there is no cure for an enlarged prostate, treatment options include using targeted microwaves or a heat-releasing needle to shrink the prostate, and surgery. For milder cases, lifestyle changes such as spreading your fluid intake throughout the day and relaxing during urination can help.
All in the Mind
We all begin to forget things here and there as we age, but when men begin to fear they are having memory loss, they are often afraid to speak up. For some, it's a confirmation aging, for others, the possible causes are too scary to contemplate.
The solution: Because there are so many potential reasons for memory loss - from an old athletic injury to Alzheimer's - it's important to have a doctor's evaluation.
How to Break the Silence
Show your love. Experts recommend beginning the conversation by explaining that you love your partner and want them to take care of themselves so that they live a long and comfortable life with you. Start and end your sentences with, "I love you."
Pick the right time and place. If you're going to address ED, don't have the conversation in the bedroom when you both may be feeling vulnerable. Pick a neutral time and begin by explaining that you love him for who he is and not his physical performance. If you're concerned about how many times he got up to pee during the football game, don't bring it up in front of his buddies. Wait till your home and alone. And don't talk about memory loss just as he's looking for the keys. Wait till he isn't distracted and won't feel like you are calling him out.
Make a plan together. After you listen to his concerns about the issue, explain that you want to work on it together and that the first step may be visiting a doctor to check for underlying health problems and get treatment.
Opening up is the first step. While a diagnosis may be scary in and of itself, remember that there are treatments, if not solutions, to all of these ailments and talking about it is the first step to feeling better.