Men’s Health: Why It’s a Big Issue and How to Take Care of Yourself

Men's health problems are a bigger issue than you might think. Learn what causes some health problems and how to improve your health naturally.

A male patient deep in thought while listening to a doctor

According to a 2021 report by Brookings Institute, men are more likely to die from COVID-19 than women. But even before the pandemic, men’s health has always been a cause of concern.

In 2018, World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there had been a high level of premature death (30- to 69-years-old) among men in the European region. This trend is repeated in other parts of the world, and data revealed that Malaysia is the 48th country with the largest men’s health gap.

A health gap is defined as differences in the prevalence of disease, health outcomes or access to healthcare. Despite having more privileges than women, men are less healthy physically and mentally.

Several factors may lead to men’s health gap. Read along as we discuss those causes and how to improve men’s health naturally in the article below.

Factors that Affect Men’s Health Negatively

There is a correlation between men’s health and an outdated idea of masculinity. For example, in many Eastern European countries, being masculine is associated with lifestyle behaviours that put men’s health at risk.

These behaviours include:

1. Smoking.

2. Heavy drinking.

3. Staying up late from working too much.

In addition, the social pressure imposed on men by a patriarchal society could deteriorate their mental health.

Threats to Men’s Health & How to Fight Them

The factors above could result in the following health conditions or diseases:

Fatigue

A tired man working from home, sitting in front of a laptop while holding his neck
Overwork can be bad for men’s health.

Besides old age, fatigue can be prompted by energy loss from staying up late. Moreover, excessive thinking can induce mental fatigue as well.

How to Treat it:

1. Get enough rest.

2. National Health Service (NHS) recommends eating meals and healthy snacks every 3-4 hours to increase energy.

3. Regular exercise can boost energy in the long run, and it can also help your body lose the excess weight that makes you feel tired.

4. Cut out caffeine.

5. Drink water. Dehydration can cost you your energy.

6. Some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Cordyceps pills can help reduce fatigue and boost energy levels. Particularly, it can boost lung ‘qi‘ (vital energy), which is responsible for ‘wei qi‘ (protective qi). A strong ‘wei qi‘ provides better external defence against pathogenic factors, which is akin to stronger immunity.

Reduced sexual health

How to Treat it:

1. Rest well.

Overexertion may cause impotence, premature ejaculation, weak erection, nocturnal emission and other sexual problems. As revealed in this 2017 study, physical exercise must be considered a potential cause for male fertility problems.

From TCM’s point of view, men’s sexual dysfunction can come from kidney deficiency and stress, which stems from liver qi stagnation. In TCM, the kidney and liver are responsible for maintaining an erection.

2. Pelvic floor exercise. It is often considered a first-line solution to erectile dysfunction.

3. Decrease alcohol intake to improve your liver health.

4. Eat a balanced diet.

5. Regulate your physical activities.

6. TCM-approved medications, like Cordyceps pills and Waist Tonic Essence. The kidney is closely related to libido levels. A deficiency in kidney ‘qi‘ can result in lower libido levels. Cordyceps pills are able to warm and nourish the kidney ‘qi‘ and essence to promote libido.

Waist and back pain

A partial back view of a man standing while holding his lower back
Back pain is a common men’s health problem.

Staying up late or having a bad posture, such as sitting too long, can give you waist and back pain. TCM also thinks it can be caused by kidney ‘qi‘ deficiency.

In TCM, there is a saying that “the waist is the house of the kidney”, thus a deficiency in kidney ‘qi‘ could result in back problems.

How to Treat it:

1. Maintain correct posture.

2. Pick a suitable mattress to sleep on.

3. Stay active. Try stretching or walking backwards.

4. Improve diet and avoid weight gain. Back pain is known to worsen with increased levels of Body Mass Index.

5. TCM recommends Cordyceps pills and Waist Tonic Essence, as these herbs are able to boost and nourish kidney ‘qi‘ thus strengthening the back.

Cardiovascular diseases

Smoking, drinking and lack of exercise are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. In TCM, heart diseases may also arise from blood stasis, which is brought about by qi deficiency.

How to Treat it:

1. Stop smoking.

2. Drink less alcohol.

3. Do proper exercise.

4. Consume a healthy, balanced diet.

5. Manage stress.

6. Some TCM herbs are believed to improve heart health, as they promote blood circulation. They include Tian Qi, ginkgo Biloba and black bean vinegar.

Prostate diseases

Ageing, bacterial infection and prolonged sitting are some reasons behind prostate diseases. Another risk factor is irregular sex life.

Meanwhile, TCM believes that prostate disorders are related to kidney deficiency, which can cause damp-heat in the lower jiao (pelvic).

How to Treat it:

1. Sleep well.

2. Don’t sit too long.

3. Exercise regularly.

4. Avoid alcohol and spicy food, as they may worsen prostate disease symptoms.

5. Regulate your sexual activities.

6. TCM advises consuming coix pearl barley, red pomegranate.

Liver Diseases

Lack of sleep, excessive drinking, smoking, overeating, substance abuse and working too much may lead to liver diseases.

How to Treat it:

1. Don’t stay up late.

2. Exercise well.

3. Eat healthily.

4. Avoid substance abuse.

5. Regulate your emotions. In TCM, imbalanced emotions and stress result in the stagnation of liver ‘qi‘. This disrupts its important function of regulating the flow of ‘qi‘, blood circulation and fluid metabolism in the body. In the long run, a myriad of diseases can arise from this imbalance.

6. Try the Chinese herb, Ganoderma Lucidum.

Ganoderma Lucidum has shown hepatoprotective effects.

Men’s health is an issue that is bigger than we might think. As long as the toxic view on masculinity prevails, men’s health gap may persist. In the meanwhile, take care of yourself before it’s too late.

Although the problems are varied, generally, having balanced meals, exercising regularly and getting proper sleep are three keys to achieving better health.

This is an adaptation of an article, ” Essential Health Supplements”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. Manual. 2020. The Men’s Health Gap  [Accessed 7 February 2022]
  2. World Health Organization Europe. 2018. The health and well-being of men in the WHO European Region: better health through a gender approach (2018)  [Accessed 7 February 2022]
  3. Brookings. 2021. At least 65,000 more men than women have died from COVID-19 in the US  [Accessed 7 February 2022]
  4. National Health Service. 2018. Self-help tips to fight tiredness  [Accessed 7 February 2022]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2018. Impact of physical activity and exercise on male reproductive potential: a new assessment questionnaire  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  6. Eu Yan Sang. 2012. Addressing the Hard Issues with TCM  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  7. PubMed. 2005. Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2018. Postural awareness and its relation to pain: validation of an innovative instrument measuring awareness of body posture in patients with chronic pain  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  9. Scientific Reports. 2021. The effect of long-term poor sleep quality on risk of back-related disability and the modifying role of physical activity  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  10. PubMed. 2003. Relationship between body weight gain and significant knee, hip, and back pain in older Americans  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2018. The associations of sitting time and physical activity on total and site-specific cancer incidence: Results from the HUNT study, Norway  [Accessed 8 February 2022]
  12. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. 2014. Effectiveness of diet, sexual habits and lifestyle modifications on treatment of chronic pelvic pain syndrome  [Accessed 8 February 2022]

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