The average doctor’s visit lasts 19 minutes. And in that time—with someone you see about once a year—you’re expected to disclose personal details about your privates? We know it can be embarrassing. But it could save your sex life (or your life, period). Here are three below-the-belt concerns that every man must discuss with his doc.
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About 1 in 4 men have low testosterone, according to the journal Endocrine Care. That can make you feel fatigued, keep you from building muscle, and dampen your sex drive, says Robert Saltman, M.D., endocrinologist at the Washington University School of Medicine. If you have these symptoms, some simple blood work can test your T-levels.
Lucky for you, logging more shuteye can naturally boost testosterone. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who decreased their sleep from eight hours per night to five saw a 15 percent drop in testosterone levels. Other natural boosters include weight training, consuming whey protein, competition, and having sex.
If you think you might have erectile dysfunction, you probably do. When more than 1,000 men were asked if they had erectile dysfunction (ED), nine out of 10 of who claimed they were “unsure” had some level of it, found a study published in BMC Urology.
The signs? Difficulty getting hard and frequently losing stiffness after becoming erect, says J. Stephen Jones, M.D., a urologist from the Cleveland Clinic.
Stress, smoking, poor diet, being overweight, and a sedentary lifestyle can increase your chances of developing ED. “But poor cardiovascular health is arguably the number one reason men get ED,” says Mark Moyad, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical Center.
Your move: Hit the gym. Men who regularly exercise cut their risk for ED in half, according to researchers from Emory University. Drugs like Cialis, Viagra, and Livitra temporarily solve the erection issues, but they don’t help the underlying cause—poor cardiovascular health. (However, these pills may also have some unintended benefits. A recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study found that taking ED medications is related to going longer before reaching orgasm. You don’t need to resort to pills, though—follow these 3 Ways to Last Longer in Bed.)
Dribbling after urinating could be nothing—or it could be a sign of advanced prostate cancer. Trouble is, it's notoriously difficult to screen for prostate cancer accurately. Earlier this year, an expert panel recommended that men forgo the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test altogether. How come? Only 1 in 4 men with high PSA levels have prostate cancer. That’s a lot of unnecessary biopsies, which are painful and come with a small risk of infection.
Still, many doctors still recommend the test because there’s no better option. For a more accurate reading, have a baseline test at age 40, says Jones.
And if your levels come back high, ask for a repeat test before scheduling a biopsy. Other factors, like infections or swelling, can raise your levels, says Jones—so you’ll want to rule those out before your doctor takes tissue samples.
To prevent prostate cancer in the first place, have more sex! A study of more than 2,000 men found that guys who masturbated at least five times weekly cut their risk of developing prostate cancer by 34 percent. Your fluids contain possibly cancer-causing compounds; researchers believe ejaculation flushes them from your body. Switch up your sex life tonight with these 4 Sex Positions Every Man Must Try.
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