It’s not that your primary care doctor isn’t fully invested in your health, but rather, that with so many patients with so many symptoms, he or she might miss minor hints that your body and health isn’t all it could be. Luckily, alternative medicine pros and nutritionists can offer insight into the signs your primary care doctor might disregard.
By Lindsay Tigar
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You might be eating too much protein
Syda Productions/ShutterstockYou want to keep your body strong, you’re committed to exercise, strength-training, and a diet of muscle-friendly protein. Unfortunately, many men turn directly to protein supplements, which can be problematic when you’re taking them for an extended period of time. (These are much healthier ways to sneak in protein.) “Men are often the main consumers of protein supplements as part of a muscle-building routine, and the overconsumption of protein can actually stress the kidneys, and be a key indicator of increased cancer risk,” explains certified culinary health expert, Ken Immer. While your physician may ask you how you’re feeling and how much you drink, but they probably won’t ask you about how many scoops of chemical, powdery-stuff you add to a smoothie each week. A nutritionist, on the other hand, can help you get the body you want, without sacrificing your health.
What’s up with your sex life
Dmitry Sheremeta/ShutterstockTalking about sexual performance may be the last thing you want to do, especially if it’s not going great. If you do manage to ask your doctor about it and the next thing you know you have a script in your hand for an erectile dysfunction drug, pump the brakes. Consider seeking the advice of a specialist such as a urologist or a sexologist. These doctors may be able to find another source and solution to your problems by identifying trends and symptoms. “It is normal for a man to lose his erection during intercourse and can happen to any man. Most of the time, it is not a medical emergency, it is usually anxiety-related,” clinical sexologist, Dawn Michael, PhD explains. “Though prescribed often, Viagra does not give a man an erection. He needs to already have an erection for the medication to work properly,” she says. For many men, physical aids and techniques will work better.
That you might have fibromyalgia
g-stockstudio/ShutterstockIf you have pain everywhere and you can’t quite pinpoint why you’re feeling so exhausted and tense, you may have a common condition that’s difficult for most primary care doctors to diagnose: fibromyalgia. Symptoms range from poor sleep and memory loss to fatigue and soreness; often, by the time it’s diagnosed, the condition is in later stages and more difficult to treat. And even more so with men—since women are typically diagnosed before their male counterparts.
“Doctors aren’t sure what causes the widespread pain that typifies this disorder. It is thought that the brains of sufferers may interpret ordinary sensation as painful, what’s known as central sensitivity syndrome. A physical exam and lab tests can’t find fibromyalgia,” explains Liam Champion, a physical therapist. “Instead, doctors check for widespread pain lasting at least three months and do a tender-point exam, which identifies places on your body that are painful to the touch despite no signs of redness or swelling; the test is positive if at least 11 of the 18 points are tender.”
What you can do to keep a pulse on triggers for this condition? Staying physically active and in touch with a physical therapist who can understand your body, movements and function more thoroughly, and can quickly alert you to when something is off.
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How your body is responding to estrogen
holbox/ShutterstockAs men age, their levels of estrogen can rise as testosterone dips. A doctor might suggest supplements or injections to help balance the hormones, but there are simpler and safer ways to control your hormones, says Gus Spatharakis, a chiropractor. Regular exercise—especially strength-training—losing weight, and cutting back on alcohol have all been shown to preserve testosterone. (You can naturally increase testosterone.)
“It’s important to avoid eating high carbohydrate meals, as they will trigger the greatest conversion of your testosterone into estrogen,” he says.
That your mood could be better balanced with foodTimolina/ShutterstockWhen men are aggressive or combative, they’re often referenced as ‘hot headed’—but if you find yourself constantly feeling like you’re about to lose your lid, your doctor might suggest therapy or even anxiety medicine. Instead of going down that route, licensed acupuncturist, Joseph Clarke, suggests taking a look at what you’re eating instead. “Men tend towards an excess of frustration—which, is a nice way of saying they tend to become angry. Eastern Medicine views this as an imbalance caused in part by diet. Some foods promote internal calm, some internal stress that can turn into anger,” he explains. Some good choices to help you ease up? Everything from asparagus and spinach to blueberries and salmon are all great options. Here are five superfoods for men.
If you’re taking enough time for self-care
g-stockstudio/ShutterstockConsider the questions you’re usually asked in your annual physical exam: How much alcohol do you drink? Do you smoke? How active are you? Do you feel healthy, right now? Though they’re good questions, they don’t give a glimpse into how you’re spending your time. How much time you spend with your family or partner versus how many hours you’re logging at the office can impact your health and wellbeing—yet few primary care physicians ask about your quality of life.
“There’s been an emergence of health coaches in the integrative care model that enable patients to create personalized care plans,” says Leena Guptha, DO, the academic dean of graduate studies at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. “This holistic approach takes into account professional care, preventive health measures, and self-care. This kind of support can have incredible health benefits in promoting sleep, gaining optimal nutrition, sticking to an exercise plan, achieving personal and career goals, and much more.”
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The health of your prostate
You might not think too much about what’s happening down there—and until you reach a certain age, your doctor might not ask. However, sex educator Hunter Riley says that there are preventive rituals you can develop at any age that help lower your risk. “There is preliminary research that suggests that regular prostate stimulation can decrease the likelihood of developing prostatitis and other complications. If doctors knew they could recommend their patients get a high-quality prostate massager, they might save their patients a lot of time, energy, pain and money down the road,” she explains.