- Men on average live 5.9 years less than women (1)
- Nearly 51% of men over the age of 20 have hypertension (2)
- The top 6-leading causes of death in males of all origins include heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic respiratory conditions, stroke and diabetes (3)
- 40% of men over the age of 20 are obese (2)
It’s important that men feel supported when it comes to their health and here is where disease prevention is key!
Naturopathic medicine is aptly suited to help manage chronic conditions including, but not limited to:
- Male Factor infertility
- Cardiovascular Disease & Associated Risk Factors (ie. Hypertension, High cholesterol, Diabetes, Stroke, Atherosclerosis, etc.)
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
- Prostate Cancer
Male Factor Infertility:
Women often feel the full weight of responsibility when it comes to failure to conceive, but of course it takes two to tango! The shape, quality, and motility of sperm are all important in successful conception. Various factors such as hormone imbalances, excess alcohol consumption, unmanaged stress, environmental pollutant exposure, poor diet with a high glycemic index, smoking, etc. can all negatively affect a man’s sperm leading to entirely male-based infertility in 20-30% of cases. (4)
Cardiovascular Disease, BPH & ED:
I plan to discuss these concerns together not because they are medically similar, rather because they are intricately related.
BPH is characterized by growth of the prostate tissue which can put pressure on the bladder leading to lower urinary tract symptoms of frequent urination, waking at night to urinate (aka. Nocturia), intermittent stream, straining, incontinence and increased urgency. Although the mechanism is not known with certainty, it is hypothesized that the intermittent wakings at night to urinate may negatively affect blood pressure possibly contributing to hypertension. (5) Also, it is well established that both obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are risk factors for BPH in part because they contribute to a state of inflammation and increased oxidative stress. See below for how to combat this!
The integrity of our blood vessels, blood pressure, and heart rate also play a key role in the process of arousal that is negatively impacted in ED. (6) It is also common for those living with Type 2 diabetes to experience ED as a side effect of neuropathy in the peripheral tissues. (7)
Prostate cancer (PC) was the leading form of new cancers diagnosed in Minnesota in 2020 and fortunately the relative 5-year survival rate is 97.1% when caught early. (8,9) PC is more prevalent in African American men, and the most significant risk factors include age and family history. That said, diet plays an integral role in supporting favorable PC outcomes and maintaining remission.
A Naturopathic Approach:
The fundamental pillars of health that keep us well are the diet and lifestyle. All of the conditions above would benefit from quality sleep, smoking cessation, regular movement and a diet with reduced red meat, dairy, sugar, and alcohol. (10)
Any form of movement is beneficial to a man’s health. With regard to fertility, moderate interval training has been shown to support sperm count and semen volume, where cycling can have a detrimental effect. (11) Aerobic training positively challenges our cardiovascular system and strength training can help regulate hormone production and metabolism. Greater than one hour a week may reduce severe nocturia by 34% compared to staying sedentary. (12) Ideally we would be aiming for a mix of activities and intensities, but consistency is the most important factor!
High dietary sugars increase oxidation and stress on the body that can increase inflammation of the prostate and also slow sperm motility. The latter contributes to male factor infertility.
A generally anti-inflammatory diet includes increased amounts of vegetables, deeply pigmented fruit (ie. Berries, pomegranate, cherries, etc.), tomato, omega-3 rich fish & plants, and green tea. All of these foods are high in dietary anti-oxidants which help to offset oxidative stress and its resulting inflammation. Lycopene is a nutrient that comes from red-colored fruits and veggies, and is particularly supportive to the prostate. (13)
Nutrients and herbs also have a supportive role to play! To improve fertility outcomes, targeted antioxidants such as CoQ10, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc can enhance sperm counts and prevent fragmentation of the sperm itself. In cases of cardiovascular disease, BPH, ED and PC I often recommend herbs and nutrients to balance testosterone, increase circulation, balance blood sugars and ease the stress response. Some of my favorites include Saw palmetto, Nettle, Berberine, Pygeum, Reishi, Ginkgo, L-arginine, and Vitamin C.
I also often recommend routine bloodwork to ensure that blood sugars are well regulated, markers of cardiovascular inflammation are within normal, and hormone levels are optimal.
Ready to take your health into your own hands? It would be a pleasure to work with you!
Disclaimer: This information is meant for educational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.
6. Sexual Activity in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease. UpToDate. Updated June 7, 2022.
10. Risk Factors for Prostate Cancer. UpToDate. Updated October 10, 2022.