Institute for Natural Medicine
Highlights of Men’s Health Issues
- Men die at greater rates than women due to unhealthy lifestyle habits, less frequent screening, and late treatment for chronic diseases
- Naturopathic physicians can help, with a unique, accessible approach to men’s health
- Naturopathic physicians focus on natural, non-prescription therapies, patient education, and lifestyle changes
- Naturopathic physicians address top men’s health complaints, including:
- Prostate cancer
- Sexual dysfunction
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
FAQ #23 – How do naturopathic doctors help address men’s health?
Five key lifestyle changes can add up to 12 years to a man’s life, according to a Harvard study, they include:
- Not smoking.
- Appropriate body mass index.
- Getting at least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- Moderate alcohol intake (for example, up to about one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, or up to two glasses for men).
- Eating a healthy diet
These factors along with unhealthy lifestyle habits, less frequent screening, and late treatment for preventable chronic diseases all result in men dying at greater rates than women from causes including heart disease, diabetes, accidents, and cancer. In fact, half of American men—who already have lower life expectancy than women—don’t bother with annual checkups. Licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs), with their emphasis on preventive and lifestyle medicine, can help to address some of these disparities.
A visit with an ND might appeal more to men who have avoided doctor visits because NDs prioritize natural, non-prescription drug approaches, focus on patient education, and are trained to empower patients to make lifestyle changes for optimal health.
Here are some key areas of men’s health where NDs specialize:
Prostate cancer, which impacts one in six men, is best treated when found early. Education about risk factors—which impact when regular screening should begin and how often it should take place—is essential. Main risk factors include: being African American, aging, family history of prostate cancer, obesity, exposure to certain chemicals, diet, and elevated testosterone levels. Studies show that prevention works and lifestyle factors impact cancer incidence and aggressiveness. If prostate cancer is diagnosed, using naturopathic medicine approaches alongside conventional care can help enhance efficacy, decrease side effects, and help prevent recurrence.
Sexual dysfunction is a complaint that actually brings men to doctors’ offices. Defined as an inability to attain or maintain an erection adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners, sexual dysfunction may also be an indication of other health conditions. For instance, cardiovascular disease with atherosclerosis causes clogging of blood vessels, which can cause impotence. Sexual dysfunction can also be a symptom of diabetes, related to poor circulation, or other endocrine system disorders. Side effects of commonly prescribed medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and anti-hypertensives can contribute to sexual dysfunction, as can alcohol and drug use. An ND can help you figure out underlying causes, and create a treatment plan that addresses your risk factors or pathology. NDs use a whole body approach, including a prescription for diet and exercise, to help improve circulation. They work with natural supplements and with botanical medicines.
Heart disease, which remains the number one killer of American men, is largely preventable if caught and treated early. By treating the whole person, naturopathic doctors address the genetic, environmental, and behavioral/lifestyle factors that lead to cardiovascular disease. Learn more in this FAQ about naturopathic medicine and heart disease.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death for men, and a chronic disease that has enormous impact on quality of life. Naturopathic doctors have an extensive toolkit to work from in order to help patients with diabetes. Their advanced training in clinical nutrition and behavioral medicine helps individuals make and sustain shifts in lifestyle that can improve or reverse disease progression.
Men often struggle with chronic pain from a number of potential sources including injuries, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other causes. Naturopathic doctors excel in non-opioid approaches to chronic pain. By developing personalized pain management treatment plans that include dietary recommendations, nutritional supplements, botanical medicines, physical rehabilitation and mind-body approaches, NDs partner with patients to effectively help reduce pain from inflammation and other causes.
Men may experience depression differently than women. For example, some men with depression may experience anger or aggression instead of or in addition to sadness. Men may talk more about the physical symptoms of depression such as fatigue, headaches, or changes in appetite. Prioritizing natural medicine approaches such as behavioral medicine, nutrition, botanical medicine, exercise and selected nutraceuticals, NDs help men address depression. NDs are also trained in the pharmacological treatments which are commonly prescribed by conventionally trained MDs. In some states, NDs have authority for prescription pharmaceutical management. They can work in conjunction with conventional mental health specialists to co-manage patient care.
For men seeking care for these common complaints and others, naturopathic doctors have answers based on rigorous training in therapeutic nutrition, behavioral medicine, botanical medicine, and an emphasis on addressing underlying causes of disease.
This article is sponsored by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following initiatives:
- Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
- Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
- Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine
INM thanks Amy Rothenberg ND, DHANP for her contribution to this article for INM. Dr. Rothenberg is a practicing licensed naturopathic doctor in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians 2017 Physician of the Year. Dr. Rothenberg’s writing can be found on NaturalMed.org, Better Nutrition’s Naturopathic Health Hub, Medium, Thrive Global, andThe Huff Post. She is the proud mother of 3 adult children.