Your Doctor

International Men's Day - Men's Health

For this International Men's Day, Dr Di Cuffa answers some common men's health questions.

Q. The advice on how much alcohol I should drink is confusing.  For example, is red wine good for you?  What is the latest advice?

A: Men and women should have no more than 14 units a week, meaning one or two glasses of wine or beer a day. However, it is strongly advised that you don’t drink all your alcohol units in one day and that you also have alcohol-free days. Red wine does contain antioxidants which may help prevent coronary artery disease which can lead to heart attacks, however, there are much better ways to achieve this. For example, exercising regularly, not smoking and having a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and good fiber will help prevent heart problems. 

Q. At what age am I potentially no longer fertile and does it really make a difference if I wear briefs or boxers?

A:  A man’s fertility starts decreasing around the age of 40 due to a reduction in good quality sperm count but men continue to produce millions of sperm every day all through their life. Research has shown that there is no impact on a man’s fertility if they wear boxers or briefs. That is a bit of an old wives’ tale.

Q. As a man what are the most important things I should do to stay healthy?

A:  The most important factors are maintaining a healthy diet full of fruit and vegetables, good proteins and lots of fiber and being a healthy weight, getting around seven to eight hours of quality sleep a night, being physically active with 150 minutes of exercise a week and not smoking. It is also very important to look after your mental health by reducing your stress levels and enjoying life with friends and family.  If you do all of these things you are protecting yourself from disease in the best ways you can.

Q. When do I have to be conscious about prostate issues and when do I first start getting checked and what does it involve?

A:   Men should start having prostate checks from the age of 50 if they are not at increased risk, but if they are at higher risk of getting prostate cancer then they should start checking at the age of 40 onwards. The most common tests are: a urine test, a prostate specific antigen blood test (PSA) and a digital rectal examination. Common symptoms of prostate problems include an increased need to urinate, straining whilst you urinate and a feeling that you haven’t completely emptied your bladder. 

Q. What can I do about erectile dysfunction?

A:   Erectile problems are very common in men over 40 and don’t only affect an individual physically but emotionally too. It is best to be honest with yourself and your partner and to go to see your GP to allow them to assess the causes of it. A healthy lifestyle such as the being the right weight, eating a healthy diet, stopping smoking, taking enough exercise and reducing stress and anxiety are all key pillars to helping protect against erectile problems. Erectile issues are usually very treatable.  

Q. How often should I go to my GP for a routine check?

A: If you are aged between 40-74 and haven’t had a stroke or heart issues, it is recommended to have a routine check at least every three years to ascertain whether there are any issues arising before they develop into something more serious.  The best advice I can give any man (or woman) is to be proactive about their health. Prevention is always better than cure.

If you have any questions about your health please contact us to make an appointment to discuss your concerns further with one of our GPs.