Everyday Care

Below-the-Belt Symptoms Men Shouldn’t Ignore

Adding a doctor’s appointment to your growing to-do list probably doesn’t seem that appealing. According to a survey conducted by Cleveland Clinic of 1,174 U.S. men, 72% said they would rather do household chores like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn than go see a healthcare professional.

Even those who are diligent about wellness visits are cutting corners, with 20% admitting they aren’t totally honest with their doctor. Of those, 37% admit not wanting to get bad medical news or a poor diagnosis and 46% said they were embarrassed to tell their doctor what their problems were. We get it. Speaking to anyone about what’s going on is a big deal. So we’ve done the homework for you and outlined some common top health concerns for men, and how to know when it’s time to seek medical attention or get treatment.

Urinary Tract Infection

What it is: Urinary tract infections, also referred to as UTIs or bladder infections, are commonly seen as a women’s issue. But this pesky infection can affect both sexes. The infection can start in any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, or urethra.  

What it feels like: Not great. UTIs can cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased frequency in the urge to urinate
  • Painful, burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain in the upper back or side
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pressure in the pelvic area
  • Pressure or pain in the lower abdomen
  • Blood or discharge in the urine

When you need treatment: If you’re experiencing UTI symptoms, check in with your clinician right away, as they can be recurring if not treated. Once diagnosed, treatment typically consists of antibiotics, and the duration depends on the location and severity of the infection. For men, recurring UTIs may be a sign of kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, so it’s important to mention this issue to your clinician.

Kidney Stones

What it is: According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 11% of men deal with kidney stones. These are hard, calcified objects created by chemicals in the urine. When the body can’t flush these chemicals out, the stones get bigger and can get stuck in the kidney or ureter, creating a urine traffic jam and pain to go with it. What it feels like: Kidney stones can be various sizes, but the larger the stone the worse your symptoms may be, which may include:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Blood in your urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Persistent stomach pains

When you need treatment: If you suspect you have a kidney stone, it’s important to discuss treatment as soon as possible. Treatment ranges from drinking extra fluids to (in some cases) surgically removing the stone. Your healthcare provider will be able to assess your situation and find the best course for you.

Enlarged Prostate

What it is: The prostate is responsible for producing some of the fluid that carries sperm. According to the NAFC, an enlarged prostate means the gland has gotten bigger, which tends to naturally happen with age.

What it feels like: As with many of these conditions, you may notice something is off when urinating due to the prostate’s location in the urinary tract. Some common signs of an enlarged prostate are:

  • Inability to urinate, incontinence, or not being able to fully empty the bladder
  • Dribbling at the end of urinating (like a leaky faucet)
  • A weak urine stream
  • Pain urinating or blood in the urine
  • A delayed start when urinating
  • Needing to urinate more than two times a night

When you need treatment: Many enlarged prostates are clinically referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This means it’s not cancerous and doesn’t increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. However, it can still be uncomfortable to live with, and there is a sliding scale of lifestyle changes and treatments that can be prescribed to ease symptoms. If you’re dealing with any of the above, mention it to your clinician to see what your options are and rule out a more serious condition.

Erectile Dysfunction

What it is: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and keep an erection. The condition affects roughly 30 million men, making this condition more common than you might think.

What it feels like: If you’re struggling with persistent difficulty getting or keeping an erection during sex along with a lack of sexual desire, there’s a good chance ED is to blame.  

When you need treatment: On top of affecting your sexual health, ED can often be a red flag for other conditions like heart disease or diabetes, according to the NIH. Avoiding treatment for ED can also lead to mental health issues including depression or anxiety. If no other physical conditions are present, treatment can be as simple as taking a pill before sex or making some lifestyle changes like reducing alcohol intake.

Hemorrhoids

What it is: Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around your anus or in your lower rectum. Hemorrhoids are common in both men and women and affect about 1 in 20 Americans, with about half of adults older than age 50 having hemorrhoids.

What it feels like: Hemorrhoids are painful, particularly when using the bathroom.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling or bleeding around the anus
  • Itching or irritation in the anal area
  • Pain during bowel movements

When you need treatment: For fast relief, hemorrhoids can be treated with several at-home remedies and over-the-counter medication. Let your clinician know about your discomfort early on so they can steer you to the best treatment.

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