We heard from Dr. Samar Riaz about the importance of sexual health in men and how they can take steps to avoid sexual health issues. Read what he had to say below!
Dr. Samar Riaz
When male patients are asked about sexual health, they often assume that the question pertains to sexually transmitted infections (STI). However, sexual health goes far beyond infections and diseases. When discussing optimal male sexual health, factors such as sexual desire (libido) and the ability to achieve and maintain an erection are critical. Is the lack of libido or inability to get an erection only effecting the patients’ relationship with their partner? The answer is no.
Low libido is typically a sign of underlying hormonal issues. Lack of testosterone can not only lead to decreased desire to have sex, but also can lead to erectile dysfunction. Testosterone is an important hormone in both males and females. Research shows that testosterone plays a role in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving lung and kidney function, preventing insulin resistance, improving mental and cognitive health, and improving mood, bone health and lean muscle mass. There is a natural decline in testosterone levels with age that is independent of any other disease factors. This decline in testosterone levels can put men at risk for several diseases.
Furthermore, research shows that more and more younger men are now experiencing low testosterone levels and while some may have symptoms, others are asymptomatic. So why is this important? Often, patients dismiss the decrease or absence of libido as part of aging and something that is normal. Patients need to understand that a decrease in libido might be an indication of an underlying issue with hormones that can put them at an increased risk for major diseases. Healthy sexual functioning is also indicative of a healthy endocrine system, which effects the heart, lungs, kidneys, bones and several other organs.
So what are some of the other signs that a patient might experience prior to developing sexual dysfunction? If a patient is feeling fatigued, experiencing brain fog, inability to recover after exercise or having mood disturbances, it might be one of the first signs of low male hormone levels that can eventually translate into low libido and erectile dysfunction.
Typically, male hormones are evaluated by performing a blood test to check hormone levels. If the levels are low, there are a wide array of options that are available for the patient to address that. This includes diet and lifestyle changes, herbs, supplements and if needed, testosterone replacement therapy. It is extremely important to address sexual health, as it is not only important for a healthy partnership, but also for physical and emotional health.
So what are some of the ways you can address sexual health issues?
Avoid foods that contain soy such as tofu, soy milk and soy sauce.
Soy foods can increase the amount of estradiol in men. This can cause a decrease in testosterone levels, which leads to low libido, ED and high estrogen levels. Elevated estrogen levels can cause breast development (gynecomastia), weight gain, insulin resistance and negative mood changes in men.
Start resistance training to improve testosterone levels.
Research shows that resistance training can increase the release of testosterone and growth hormones. Both that are important to ensure a healthy aging process.
Go out in the sun and check your vitamin D levels.
Low vitamin D levels are associated with decreased testosterone in men. Being out in the sun not only helps with mood, but the increased Vitamin D is going to improve testosterone levels as well. However, patients are often times unable to absorb the Vitamin D from the sun. Checking Vitamin D levels and supplementing accordingly is important.