“Anything else you’d like to talk about?” It’s a prompt you might often get from your doctor when wrapping up a routine visit.
And it’s usually the best opportunity to bring up those questions you’ve been eager to ask—and who better to ask than the physician with whom you’ve developed a close personal relationship?
Curtis Chastain, MD, and Tyler Boudreaux, MD, of Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Men’s Health and Executive Wellness Center hear from their male patients all the time about a variety of concerns and ailments. Their job is to listen and offer solutions, but also investigate some of the potential underlying causes for their patients’ concerns.
We asked them to share some of the most common questions they get.
I’m often feeling fatigued during the day. Should I be worried?
Many men complain of feeling exhausted during the day, and the cause is often more associated with lifestyle than an underlying condition. A poor diet and not getting enough sleep can make you groggy. And just as you can feel tired after a tough morning workout, you can also feel sluggish from not enough exercise. Turn off the phone or TV at night to get an uninterrupted and restful sleep. That’s the first major step to feeling productive and in a positive headspace the next day. Your doctor can help you explore if there’s a more troublesome cause.
I wake up often at night needing to go to the bathroom. What can I do to stop this?
“It’s almost an expected thing that as men get older, their prostates get enlarged,” says Dr. Boudreaux. “The important thing is to not get acclimated to that pattern and just consider it normal.”
Men should monitor how frequently they get up each night, if the volume of urination is large or small, and any liquids they consume before going to bed. These are important to share with your doctor to plan the next course of action or determine if treatment is right for you.
What can I do about erectile dysfunction?
Dr. Chastain says to take a breath. This may be the result of stress or nerves and not necessarily a sign of something wrong. It could be a psychological issue that’s particularly hard to shake but might not require medication. “80 percent of the time, it’s just a natural mishap,” he says.
I’m concerned about my heart. What should I do?
If you have a family history of heart issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attack, you should share that information with your doctor and discuss how to assess your personal risk. Your diet, weight, consumption of alcohol and tobacco, and other lifestyle choices all factor in. An annual wellness check can help you and your doctor establish a baseline to track over time and examine any changes.
What’s the best way to lose weight at my age?
Dr. Chastain says he first asks patients to find their “why.” What’s leading you toward a desire to lose weight? Is it concern about a health condition? Worries about dealing with future health conditions? Or is it just about wanting to feel better overall?
“There’s no magic bullet, no magic pill,” Dr. Chastain says. “But you’ve got to commit to a lifestyle change for weight loss to truly work.” And that, of course, includes regular exercise and a healthy diet above all else.
What can you give me for hair loss?
This is a similar issue with no magic-bullet solution. Doctors can prescribe certain medications, but change can be minimal or incremental. Even the best hair loss medications are usually only able to maintain the hair you have, not grow new hair follicles. Talk to your doctor about such medications and their side effects.
I’ve been hearing a lot about testosterone tests and supplements. Is this something I should be doing?
The blunt answer: No. The topic has been in the media lately—even an alleged trend of diminished testosterone levels among men—but it has been largely debunked by reputable physicians.
Dr. Chastain and Dr. Boudreaux say testosterone tests can be misleading because levels will fluctuate radically throughout the day. Testosterone levels low enough to be of medical concern are rare, so they suggest talking with your doctor about any symptoms or issues that may be leading you to think your testosterone is low—it could be a sign of another problem entirely.
When should I start getting screened for certain types of cancers and other health conditions?
Nearly every age group of men, from 30s to 40s and above, is recommended to consider certain health screenings. By the time you hit 40, you should be scheduling yearly checkups. In your 50s, certain cancer screenings come into play. Dr. Chastain and Dr. Boudreaux stress that such age ranges are only a recommendation for the average man. If you have a family health history or personal health problems that concern you, don’t wait. Get them addressed now if not for your own peace of mind, but for early detection and prevention.