Dear Men…

Dear Men…

Empowering Men's Health: Overcoming Barriers, Understanding Symptoms, and Taking Action - By Alison Cullen

Reading time: 4 minutes

We don’t need statistics to tell us that men are less likely to visit their healthcare practitioner than women. In fact, it’s not uncommon for many men to only visit their GP following a health scare.

But chaps, it shouldn’t take a health scare to get you to the doctor.

Generally speaking, looking after yourself means eating healthily, getting enough sleep (a good seven hours a night), exercising regularly, keeping the bad stuff like alcohol, processed foods and refined sugars to a minimum, and just being aware of the potential health hiccoughs that may lay ahead.

And specifically speaking? You know your body and you know when something doesn’t feel right, even if it is tempting to push this feeling to one side.

Low testosterone

If something does feel off, one reason for this could be declining levels of testosterone. Male menopause, also called andropause, refers to age-related changes in male hormones, and specifically the drop in testosterone levels some men experience with age.

Both menopause in women and andropause in men involves a drop-off in hormones – in women, oestrogen levels decline as ovaries reduce production; in men, testosterone levels decline.

One of the key differences, however, is the speed with which they do this: in women the decline is sudden, occurring over a few years, normally from the age of 45 to 50; in men this decline is much more gradual, with hormones dropping off over several decades rather than years. This also means there may be a tendency for symptoms to ‘creep up’ on you.

Although not immediately obvious, if you’re feeling tired, irritable, depressed or are experiencing low libido or erectile dysfunction, your testosterone levels could be low. Other symptoms of low testosterone can include a drop in muscle mass, an increase in body fat, and thinning hair.

If symptoms are beginning to affect your quality of life – if, for example, low libido or erectile dysfunction is affecting your relationship or causing depression – a doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.

This can come in the form of a testosterone skin patch, capsule, gel or injection, but it is something you would need to discuss with your doctor as they will first want to measure your testosterone levels to see if this line of treatment might be suitable for you.

If it’s not, or you’d rather steer clear of hormone replacement therapy, dietary changes and key nutrients can lend support. Zinc is important for testosterone levels and deficiency is fairly common in the modern world as intensive farming strips vital nutrients from the soil; even if you’re eating well you may still be missing out. Nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds especially, are great sources of zinc, or you could try a supplement.

Another pressing matter

All puns aside, you also need to be mindful of your prostate. Located below the bladder, it surrounds the urethra which drains the bladder. With age the prostate gland starts to enlarge, slowly squashing the urethra and reducing the amount of space available for urine to pass through.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate grows to an unhealthy size, causing difficulty and discomfort when urinating. Symptoms include urinating frequently, difficulty in getting a urine stream going and feeling as if you are unable to empty your bladder properly.

Although not life-threatening in all but its most extreme stages, it’s not much fun. Most importantly, you need an official diagnosis from your doctor to rule out a more serious condition, such as prostate cancer, still the most common cancer in men over the age of 45.

If prostate enlargement is confirmed, a Saw Palmetto supplement may help. The berries of the Saw Palm have been used traditionally to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, and many doctors in Austria, Germany and Italy use Saw Palmetto as their first line of defence against prostate problems. Prostasan Saw Palmetto capsules from A.Vogel ( are indicated to relieve urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate in men with a confirmed diagnosis of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (although men taking prescribed medicines for BPH or other hormonal imbalances should consult their GP before taking Saw Palmetto).

Once again, zinc is also important. It is more abundant in the prostate than anywhere else in the body and deficiency is common in men with prostate problems.

A nod to your noggin

Finally, whilst we might be much better today at looking after our cognitive cogs than we were 20, 10, or even five years ago, our mental health, just like our physical wellbeing, needs constant monitoring and support.

One in eight men in England alone, has a common mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety. It’s so important to talk about what makes us feel sad, stressed, depressed or anxious, whether to a friend, family member, GP or support organisation.

There are also steps you can take to help calm your mind and prevent anxiety from taking over.

Listen to your body’s responses and question your thought patterns. Negative thoughts can be quick to take root and if given a voice for long enough, can distort the severity of a situation. Recognise the thought for what it is and try to turn it down in your mind.

Calm your breathing. Taking fewer but deeper breaths will optimise your oxygen intake, helping you to relax and remain calm.

Go for a walk. Physical exercise causes the brain to produce endorphins to cheer you up. If you can, surround yourself with nature, the greener the better. Green space exposure activates a primitive part of the brain involved with stress regulatory responses - just 10 minutes a day will help you to feel better and more in control.

Need a helping hand? If you’re still feeling anxious try A.Vogel’s Passiflora Complex Spray*. A gentle, non-addictive blend of herbs for those needing to relax, it combines Passiflora (passionflower) and Lemon Balm. The handy spray makes it ideal for using on-the-go.

St. John’s Wort or Hyperiforce can also be used for feelings of low mood and mild anxiety, but check with your GP first if on prescribed medicines.

*commission earned from this link.

Alison Cullen

Hello. My name is Alison Cullen and I am an experienced nutritional therapist with a clinic in Ayrshire, Scotland. I am also a qualified sleep consultant. I currently combine running my clinic with the role of Education Manager for A Vogel.