Archive for January, 2012

Putting the “Good” In Good Cholesterol

January 31, 2012

How to Boost Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol

At the risk of sounding like a certain 20-something socialite, High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is hot! Advances in research have brought more attention to the blood lipid (or fat) we often call “good” cholesterol.

“Good” cholesterol doesn’t refer to the cholesterol we eat in food, but rather to the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol circulating in our blood. It’s one of the fats measured in the lipid panel blood test doctors perform. And it’s the component you want more of, because a higher HDL is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Experts from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) note that although LDL or “bad” cholesterol has gotten most of the attention, there’s growing evidence that HDL plays an important role.

Facts About “Good” Cholesterol

  • HDL cholesterol normally makes up 20%-30% of your total blood cholesterol.
  • There is evidence that HDL helps protect against the accumulation of plaques (fatty deposits) in the walls of coronary arteries.
  • Research suggests that a five-point drop in HDL cholesterol is linked to a 25% increase in heart disease risk.
  • In prospective studies — that is, studies that follow participants for a period of time to watch for events like heart attacks or death from heart disease — HDL usually proves to be the lipid risk factor most linked to heart disease risk.
  • HDL cholesterol levels are thought to be impacted by genetics.
  • Women typically have higher HDL cholesterol levels than men. About a third of men and about a fifth of women have HDL levels below 40 mg/dL. Doctors consider levels of less than 40 mg/dL to be low.

Researchers from the Netherlands who analyzed 60 studies concluded that the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (in which your total cholesterol number is divided by your HDL number) is a better marker for coronary artery disease than LDL measurement alone.

“Boosting HDL is the next frontier in heart disease prevention,” says P.K. Shah, MD, director of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Shah says that if the new drugs designed to increase HDL levels prove effective, they could potentially reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes by 80% to 90% — and save millions of lives. HDL-boosting drugs are now being tested.

How Does HDL Cholesterol Help Your Heart?

Experts aren’t yet sure exactly how HDL cholesterol helps reduce the risk of heart disease. But a few possibilities have emerged.

The NCEP says that high HDL levels appear to protect against the formation of plaques in the artery walls (a process called atherogenesis), according to studies in animals.

Lab studies, meanwhile, suggest that HDL promotes the removal of cholesterol from cells found in plaques, or lesions, in the arteries.

“Recent studies indicate that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of HDL also inhibit atherogenesis,” says the NCEP report

What many people don’t know is that some diet and lifestyle changes may help to increase HDL cholesterol levels, although to a small extent.

Here are some of the contenders:

1. Orange Juice. Drinking three cups of orange juice a day increased HDL levels by 21% over three weeks, according to a small British study (at 330 calories, that’s quite a nutritional commitment). This study could be highlighting an effect from high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables. Stay tuned in the years to come.

2. Glycemic Load. The glycemic load is basically a ranking of how much a standard serving of a particular food raises your blood sugar. And as the glycemic load in your diet goes up, HDL cholesterol appears to go down, according to a small recent study. Along these lines, the NCEP report recommends that most of our carbohydrate intake come from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products. These foods tend to be on the lower end of the glycemic scale.

3. Choosing Better Fats. Replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats can not only help reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol, it may also increase levels of “good” cholesterol, according to the Food & Fitness Advisor newsletter from Cornell University’s Center for Women’s Healthcare.

4. Soy. When substituted for animal-based products, soy foods may have heart health benefits. Soy products are low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats. Soy products are also high in fiber. An analysis found that soy protein, plus the isoflavones found in soy “raised HDL levels 3%, which could reduce coronary heart disease risk about 5%,” says Mark Messina, PhD, a nationally known soy expert. Messina notes that soy also may lead to a small reduction in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of blood fat), and a possible enhancement in blood vessel function. Other studies have shown a decrease in LDL cholesterol (about 3%) and triglycerides (about 6%) with about three servings of soy a day. That adds up to 1 pound of tofu, or three soy shakes. Further research should focus on whether a higher soy diet intervention is associated with a reduction in heart disease risk.

5. Alcohol in Moderation. Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is associated with a higher level of HDL. Alcohol is also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women.

6. Aerobic exercise. Moderately intense exercise of at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is the exercise prescription that can help raise your HDL, according to many health care professionals.

7. Stopping smoking. Experts agree that kicking the habit can increase your HDL numbers a bit, too.

8. Losing weight. Being overweight or obese contributes to low HDL cholesterol levels, and is listed as one of the causes of low HDL, according to the NCEP.

Bottom Line: Not all cholesterol is bad.  HDL is the good cholesterol and this article from the Wall Street Journal provides suggestions for boosting your HDL

 

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Sex Is More Than Sexy-It’s Healthy

January 22, 2012

Sexual intimacy for the most part is enjoyable, feels good, and is fun. But did you know that that there are other benefits of jumping into the sack with your partner? This article will take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological.

Sex Is a Stress Buster

A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction. Studies have show that those men and women who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.

It’s Blood Pressure Lowering Event

Elevated blood pressure is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke. Frequent intercourse is associated with lower diastolic blood pressure (the lower, or second, number in a blood pressure reading). Even partner hugs have the effect of lowering blood pressure in women.

An Immune Booster

Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections.
Men and women who have intercourse once or twice a week had higher levels of IgA than those who reported being abstinent or having sex less than once a week.

It’s An Aerobic Exercise

The benefits of sex as a form of exercise are many – sex can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, and balance, not to mention your emotional health. People who get regular exercise tend to sleep better and have more restful sleep

It Burns Calories

Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. The number of calories burned during sex is about the same as the number burned by walking at 2 miles per hour. Doubling up on the 30 minute sessions, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

Sex Is Heart Healthy

While some older folks may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that’s not so. Let the truth be told that frequency of sex is not associated with stroke.
If you can walk up two flights of stairs without shortness of breath or chest pain, you can safely indulge in sexual intimacy without risking injury to your heart.

Fact: having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month. However, it is important to have sex with your regular partner as a sexual tryst outside of your regular relationship does place you at risk for a unhealthy heart event. Just ask Happy Rockerfeller!

It’s an Ego Booster

One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves. Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it.

Sex Strengthens Your Well-Being

Sex, like any activity that fosters a close and loving connection to your partner, not only raises self-esteem, but strengthens your overall sense of well-being. Studies have shown that people with strong social support networks (which includes lovers) are healthier and happier than their less-connected peers. That’s why happily married men live longer than men who are divorced.

Sex Improves Intimacy

Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us bond and build trust. A study of premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands and partners ending with hugs found that the more contact, the higher the oxytocin levels.
Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So if you’re feeling suddenly more generous toward your partner than usual, credit the love hormone.

Sex Reduces Pain

As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. Endorphins are natural pain relievers and are even more potent than morphine. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels. And if you have a headache, don’t use it as an excuse to avoid intimacy, use it as a reason to engage in intercourse.

It’s Prostate Healthy

Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life. But they found men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third.
Also the Journal of the American Medical Association found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men, as well, compared with less frequent ejaculations.

Sex Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, doing a few pelvic floor muscle exercises known as Kegel exercises during sex offers a couple of benefits. You will enjoy more pleasure, and you’ll also strengthen the area and help to minimize the risk of incontinence later in life.
To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to ten, then release. Do the exercises 8-10 times a day.

Additional Benefits of Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises have a number of proven health benefits in addition to making sex more enjoyable. The strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles can help prevent prolapse (a slipping out of position) of the vagina, uterus, and bladder. Pelvic floor muscles may be weakened later in life as a result of childbearing, being overweight, and aging. Kegel exercises help offset the consequences of weakened pelvic floor muscles.

It’s a Sedative

The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research. And getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. Something to think about, especially if you’ve been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snoring the next.

Bottom Line: Not because it is Valentines Day is it good to have intimacy and bonding with your partner. It’s good for your health. If you are looking for reasons to have sex, tell them Dr. Baum recommended it!

Modified from article on WebMD by Kathleen Doheny
http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-sex

Take A Second To Get A Second Opinion

January 22, 2012

You have a lump or a bump or an abnormality on your chest x-ray or CT scan. A more comprehensive workup reveals an ominous diagnosis, perhaps cancer, or the need for major surgery. What do you do? Before you embark on a life-long treatment or consent to a surgical procedure, you might consider getting a second opinion.
A second opinion is a visit to a physician other than the one a patient has previously been seeing in order to get a differing point-of-view. Second opinions may be sought by a patient under the following circumstances:
▪ You physician recommends surgery.
▪ Your physician diagnoses patient with serious illness (such as cancer) that patient does not believe they have.
▪ Your physician recommends a treatment other than what you believe is necessary.
▪ When your docotr recommends elective surgery, it may be required by the insurance plan. In other cases, insurance will not pay for a second opinion.
▪ If you believe that you have a condition that physician fails to diagnose. In some cases, the physician may be the one to recommend the second opinion.
▪ Your physician may even recommend a second opinion.

Don’t worry about hurting your doctor’s feelings. Most doctors welcome a second opinion, especially when surgery or long-term treatment is involved. Ask someone you trust for a recommendation. If you don’t feel comfort- able asking your doctor for a referral, then call another doctor you trust. You can also call university teaching hospitals, such as LSU and Tulane Medical School, and medical societies, such as the Louisiana State Medical Society, for the names of doctors.

Today many insurance companies require a second opinion before approving major surgery or expensive treatments such as chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants. You shouldn’t hesitate to tell a doctor that you want a second opinion, and you are entitled to your reports, your x-rays, and even your pathology slides that you might want to have reviewed by another pathologist. Now many major medical centers, including Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and MD Anderson in Houston, Texas have second-opinion services that doctors can refer patients to, or patients can contact directly in order to obtain an independent assessment.

What do you do if the second opinion differs markedly from the first diagnosis you received? In that situation a third opinion may be necessary to get a consensus on what course of treatment is best.
The wrong diagnosis can occur for various reasons. Pathologists and radiologists may misread slides and scans or fail to use the latest tests or technology. Sometimes doctors may simply get stuck on the idea of one diagnosis and ignore or overlook evidence it might be something else. It is estimated that radiologist will make a misdiagnosis about 8% of the time. For example a brain tumor might mistakenly be thought to be an infection, a stroke, or multiple sclerosis. The last thing you want to happen is to have a part of your brain, a kidney, breast or other organ removed and find out that this isn’t what was initially diagnosed.

What do you need when requesting a second opinion?
When given a diagnosis that is frightening or likely to require surgery, you want to ask for a meeting with your doctor and tell him\her that you would like a second opinion. Nearly every doctor will accept your request and help you prepare your records that you will need to take with you. You want to take a complete copy of your records with you to your second opinion doctor. Also take your original x-rays, the reports, and also any pathology slides with you. You will want to make an appointment with another physician and explain that you are coming for a second opinion. If the second-opinion doctor agrees to see you, send all of your records to the doctor and be sure that he\she has had an opportunity to review your records before your appointment. I also suggest that you bring another copy of your records with you in case the records you sent are misplaced or lost in the office.
You will want to ask the second opinion doctor if he\she reviewed the materials related to your case. You will want to know if the tests, x-rays, and biopsies were adequate to make a firm diagnosis. Find out if the doctor thinks that one of the tests needs to be repeated or if additional tests are required. Ask the doctor to confirm the diagnosis or find out what other diagnoses may be considered.
Online Second Opinions
Some patients will seek a second opinion online. This is a service offered by some clinics. Doing so enables patients to take advantage of the wealth of medical information found on the Internet, and to avoid traveling to visit the clinic in person. But the face-to-face visit with the physician is lost, and not all medical insurance plans will cover the cost. When you get a second opinion, you need to be seen by a doctor. That doctor will perform a physical examination and perhaps other tests. The doctor will also thoroughly review your medical records, ask you questions, and address your concerns. This cannot be accomplished over the Internet. The American Medical Association doesn’t oppose online second opinions, but it does say in-person visits offer more benefits.

Bottom Line:
Getting a second opinion from a different doctor might give you a fresh perspective and new information. It could provide you with new options for treating your condition. Then you can make more informed choices.

Got Premature Ejaculation? Give Kegels a Try

January 14, 2012

Premature ejaculation is a common condition that impacts so many American men. It leads to a source of frustration not only to the man but to his partner as well. There are dozens of folklore treatments but since none universally effective, that leaves many men continuing to suffer the embarrassment of premature ejaculation or PE. There are medical options, which include oral medication with SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and sex therapy that teach the squeeze technique.

However, a non-medical solution consists of pelvic floor exercise, more commonly called a Kegel exercise (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel), consists of contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, which are referred to as the “Kegel muscles”. Several tools exist to help with these exercises, though many are ineffective. These exercises are usually done to reduce urinary incontinence and aid with childbirth in women, and reduce premature ejaculatory occurrences in men, as well as increase the size and intensity of erections.
Kegel exercises are employed to strengthen the pubococcygeal muscle and other muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. Kegels can help men achieve stronger erections and gain greater control over ejaculation. The objective of this may be similar to that of the exercise in women with weakened pelvic floor: to increase bladder and bowel control and sexual function.
Sexual function
Kegel workouts can provide men with stronger erections. Research published in 2005 issue of BJU International, have shown that pelvic floor exercises could help restore erectile function in men with erectile dysfunction. There are said to be significant benefits for the problem of premature ejaculation from having more muscular control of the pelvis. In men, this exercise lifts up the testicles, also strengthening the cremaster muscle, as well as the anal sphincter muscles, as the anus is the main area contracted when a Kegel is done. This is because the pubococcygeus muscle begins around the anus and runs up to the urinary sphincter.

Find a quiet and private place to practice your reverse Kegels. You’ll need to take your time when you first begin. You need to be patient if you don’t feel like you’re understanding the technique right away. You’ll need to settle into a place without any interruptions. Then, you will need to:
1. Relax the penile area completely and clear your mind of tension and anxiety. You want to be calm and relaxed so that the blood can flow into your penis.
2. Begin contracting the penile muscles. Focus on contracting the muscles near the front of your penis while keeping the rest of the pelvic area as relaxed as possible. The goal is to make your penis become stronger and more erect without actually having an erection.
3. Breathe deeply and slowly as you push out the muscles in the penile area and maintain focus on strengthening only the top and lower end of the penis. Take note of how relaxed and loose the muscles directly under your penis are.
4. Let go of the contraction and breathe more deeply as you exhale. Let your penis relax, then take another deep breath and contract again. Make sure you are only focusing on the front of your penis; push out, hold for a few seconds, then relax the muscles.
5. Repeat the cycle for at least 10-15 times per session so that you feel comfortable with the movement. The entire process will feel awkward at first, but it’s very important to focus on relaxation and keeping the muscles as loose as possible outside of the contractions. You can work your way up to 40-50 exercises per session as your penis becomes stronger.

Practicing Kegels for PE treatment isn’t the most effective PE cure but good results still possible so you should try it especially in a combination with other remedies such as SSRIs. The best thing about Kegels exercises it their absolute safety and the cost is just right-it’s free!

Bottom Line: Kegel exercises are not just for women but can also be used by men to treat premature ejaculation. Remember, a Kegel a day may keep your ejaculation away….or at least delayed for a few minutes!


Your Chair May Be Hazardous To Your Health-The Sins of Sitting

January 13, 2012

You’ve seen that advice about smoking hazardous to your health which is posted on every package of cigarettes. Now they may be putting a similar warning on the very chair you sit on. It was just fifty years ago when half of American jobs involved moderate physical activity, often in manufacturing or agriculture. Today less than 20% are physically active at work. The rest spend most of their time sitting in a chair at work and at home. Most Americans now spend more time sitting than they do sleeping. Many spend 10 hours a day in a car, at work or at home in a chair. The problem is worse with older Americans. Nearly 75% of middle age and older Americans are sedentary, and more than 40% get no physical activity at all. Women who sit more than six hours a day outside of work had a 34% higher risk of death than those who sat fewer than three hours a day. Even physically active men were 64% more likely to die of heart disease if they sat more than 23 hours a week in front of the TV.

The Benefits
Going for a daily walk will immediately help you feel better. Regular walking can help protect the aging brain against memory loss and dementia, help cut the risk of heart disease, and reduce the change of developing type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults. You can reduce your risk of developing cancer by merely getting at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous exercise.

How to Get Started
Start by thinking of ways to add physical activity to your workday and leisure time. You might consider parking your car a few blocks away from where you work and walk to and from the office. Walk up a few flights of stairs a few times every day. Reduce TV viewing. There are many who will watch 10-12 hours of football games every weekend. During a commercial or time out, you can drop down and do 10-15 push-ups or sit-ups. The famous Heisman Trophy winner and professional football player, Herschel Walker, said he never lifted weights but did push-up and sit-ups during commercials while he was watching T.V.

Consider working on your computer while standing up.

Deliver message to colleagues in person instead of texting or E-mailing.

Set the clock in your computer to remind you to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes.

Train yourself to standup when the phone rings.

You can place the waste paper basket on the other side of the room, which forces you to stand up and walk a few feet to make a deposit into the waste paper basket.

If you have to use the restroom, walk up a flight or two instead of using one down the hall on your floor.

Take a brisk 20-minute walk at lunch and eschew the desert.

Bottom Line: Americans, we need to get moving and spend less time sitting. There are simple ways to get more exercise even if you have a sedentary job. Remember, your chair may be dangerous to your health.

Nutrition for Your Prostate Gland

January 9, 2012

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men causing nearly 250,000 new cases each year. It is the second most common cause of death in American men, killing nearly 40,000 men annually. However, with regular examination consisting of a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test, prostate cancer can be detected early and treated. There are other healthy life-style changes that can be easily done that may even help prevent prostate cancer.
1. Start taking vitamin D, E and selenium supplements. Although further research is needed to confirm their effectiveness, studies have demonstrated that all three, vitamin D, E and selenium, show promise with regard to prostate cancer prevention when taken regularly.
2. Eat more soybeans (or soybean products) and other legumes. Elevated levels of testosterone may increase your risk for developing prostate cancer. The phytoestrogens-nonsteroidal plant compounds that act like estrogen in the body and thus can help to regulate imbalanced hormone levels-contained in these foods may help to prevent prostate cancer; genistein, an isoflavone also found in soy foods, helps to normalize hormone levels and thus may reduce prostate cancer.
3. Drink green tea. Antioxidant compounds in green tea may help prevent prostate cancer; some have even been found to kill prostate cancer cells in test tubes, while others have blocked enzymes that promote prostate cancer.
4. Get plenty of fiber. Fiber can eliminate excess testosterone in the body; thus, a high-fiber diet can aid in the regulation of your body’s hormone levels and may help reduce the risk for prostate cancer.
5. Reduce your intake of meat and saturated fats. Follow a low-fat diet: diets high in saturated fat ¬animal fat in particular-and red met have been found to increase the risk for prostate cancer. Eating a low-tat diet also helps to prevent obesity, a condition that may also increase prostate cancer risk.
6. Eat more broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts and greens. A recent study found that men who ate cruciferous vegetables more than once a week were 40% less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men who rarely ate them.
7. Eat cooked tomatoes. Lycopene, the carotenoid pigment that makes tomatoes bright red, possesses powerful antioxidant properties and has been linked in some studies to a decreased risk for prostate cancer.
8. Limit your dairy consumption. Diets high in dairy products and calcium may be associated with small increases in prostate cancer risk. Moderate your dairy consumption, and don’t overdo calcium¬ supplements or foods fortified with extra calcium.
9. Get regular aerobic exercise. Regular aerobic exercise has been associated with reduced risk levels for prostate cancer: exercise also helps prevent obesity and other health-related complications that obesity causes.
10. See your physician for prostate cancer screenings regularly. While regular screenings can’t reduce your risk for prostate cancer, changes in diet and exercise can. They help ensure early diagnosis so that prostate cancer can be treated as effectively as possible. My best advice is to get screened annually if you are over the age of 50, if you have a family member who has prostate cancer, or if you are an African-American man.

Bottom Line: Prostate cancer may have a relationship with diet. I cannot tell you for certain if you follow these instructions you will not develop prostate cancer. But as my wonderful Jewish mother would say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”

Sex and The Senior Man-Help Is Available For Men With ED

January 9, 2012

It wasn’t too long ago that erectile dysfunction (ED) was believed to be a natural part of aging.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Middle age and older men who are healthy and have an opportunity to have sexual intimacy can expect to be successful in the bedroom. 

 Once taboo, ED has emerged from the shadows, thanks in large part to the widespread media attention give to Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. However, a wide variety of treatment options are now available that provide hope for men of any age suffering from ED symptoms. There simply is no reason to suffer in silence, whatever your age.

 Approximately 30 million men in the U.S. suffer from ED. An estimated 50 percent of men at age 50 experience some ED symptoms, and the percentage jumps 10% with each decade in life.

 Most men certainly aren’t willing to accept a decline in our eyesight with age—we use glasses when needed. In much the same way, ED is more than a minor inconvenience and can seriously impact quality of life for men and their partners.

 Related Health Risks

ED is a medical condition and can be an early warning sign of a much more serious condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels or disease of the blood vessels to the brain, which could lead to stroke. ED symptoms can also be a manifestation of depression.  This makes it even more important to pay attention to your ED symptoms.

 Aside from these physical symptoms, ED can take a serious toll on your overall well-being and mental health, causing strain on your relationships and unnecessary anguish and stress.

 Talk to Your Doctor

Talking to your doctor about your ED symptoms can feel embarrassing or difficult, but there’s no reason to be ashamed or uncomfortable. An active sex life can be just as important to your overall health as is proper nutrition and exercise.

 When you visit the doctor, tell him/her about other medical conditions you may have so you can determine whether your ED may be the symptom of a greater problem. Make a separate appointment to discuss ED, to make sure you have enough time to discuss your concerns. Ask for a referral to a urologist, a doctor who specializes in men’s urinary and sexual health issues.

 Be sure to discuss the all the possible issues surrounding your ED, the hurdles you face in all areas of sexual function, including your ability to get and keep an erection, sensitivity and other issues that may help pinpoint the root cause.

 Treatment Options

For many men, oral medications are not only very safe, but also quite effective. Pills such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are effective for about 70% of men. But for those with other health factors, such as cardiac disease, diabetes, oral medication may not be an option, or they may become less effective over time. For these men, there are a number of other treatment options available, including:

  • Vacuum pump therapy, which requires the use of a small pump to mechanically enhance blood flow and create an erection. These devices are totally noninvasive, but they can be somewhat awkward to use and not conducive to spontaneity.
  • Transurethral suppositories are tiny pellets of medication inserted into the urethra opening – a minimally invasive treatment, but still somewhat uncomfortable. This also requires some advance preparation.
  • Injection therapy, while the concept is disturbing to most men at the start, involves the use of a very fine needle to inject medication to produce an erection. Because of both the psychological and physical discomfort, in spite of high levels of effectiveness, many men do not find this to be a long-term solution. About 50% of men who try injections, do not continue their use.
  • Penile prosthetic implants are surgical devices concealed within the body that restore erectile function to as near natural as possible and still allow for spontaneity. While the concept itself is nothing new, the devices and implantation procedures have evolved considerably to make the procedure quicker and easier on the patient. While implants carry the same risks associated with any surgery, implant procedures generally have extremely high success rates and provide an effective solution for many men. Implants may not be for everyone, but they are a viable option to restore erectile function for most men over the age of 50, and they carry a very high satisfaction rate among patients and partners.

 Choosing a treatment that’s right for you depends on a number of factors, including your relationship status, the importance and level of physical intimacy required, and other health issues. Ask your doctor about the success rate and risks with each option and about what you can reasonably expect in the form of results. It’s unlikely that any treatment will restore erectile function back to the way it was in your younger years, especially with advanced age, but ED treatment can allow all men to enjoy and active and satisfying sex life well into their golden years.

 No matter what your age, it’s important to take that first step and talk to your doctor about ED symptoms. It’s never “normal” at any age to not have normal sexual function. With the wide variety of treatment options available, there’s no longer any reason to ignore the problem as a fact of life.

Bottom Line: ED is not a natural consequence of aging.  Help is available and no one needs to suffer the tragedy of the bedroom.

 

Modified article by Gerald Brock. By Healthy Aging Admin Published 09/16/2010 Health News

Why O “Y” Has My Sperm Gone: Male Infertility

January 5, 2012

Did you know that a man’s sperm production is tied to his ability to have male offspring? When sperm counts decrease, so do the Y chromosomes and it is the Y chromosome that is responsible for siring a son.

In the past it was always thought that having an X chromosome on the sperm made girls and Y made boys and it was just a mere 50-50 coin flip. Now a recent study from Stanford University has demonstrated that men having a low sperm count, or less than five million sperm per cubic centimeter, had fewer Y chromosome and thus less likely to have male offspring.

The next study is going to look at whether treatments that are used to increase sperm counts may affect the ratio of X to Y chromosomes.

Will keep you posted on this piece of important information!

Constipation-Not All That It’s Cracked Up To Be

January 2, 2012

I try to lead a very transparent life and I would like to share an experience with the readers of my column. Recently I’ve had knee surgery and have taken pain medication to make it possible to work and sleep. However, I experienced one of the side effects of pain medication, i.e., constipation. I’ve discovered various myths associated with the dreaded “C” that I think is worth passing along.
What’s “normal” varies from person to person. Some people go three times a day; others, three times a week. Although having a bowel movement once a day is common, it’s fine to go a few days without one.
Some people believe that constipation causes the body to absorb poisonous substances in stools. But there’s no evidence that the stools produce toxins or that colon cleansing, laxatives, or enemas can prevent cancer or other diseases.
Older people are more likely to become constipated. This can be because of medical conditions, poor nutrition, greater use of medications, or not enough physical activity. But constipation is one of the most common issues among other age groups, too. For example, it’s not unusual during pregnancy or after childbirth or surgery.
Increasing the fiber in your diet can often help constipation. But chronic constipation can signal a real problem. In rare cases, it can signal illnesses such as colorectal cancer or autoimmune disease. In my case, the constipation was due to inactivity and the use of pain medication, which result in a decrease in peristalsis or rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the colon.
Travel can change your daily routine and diet, contributing to constipation. Avoid dehydration-related constipation by drinking water, especially if you’re flying. Also move around when you can — for example, while waiting for plane connections or by taking rest stops when driving. Other travel tips: Exercise, limit alcohol, and make a point of eating fruits and vegetables.
Depression may trigger constipation or make it worse. Reducing stress may help. Massaging the abdomen may help relax the muscles that support the intestines and get your bowels moving.
You may feel too busy at work to have a bowel movement. Or you’d rather wait until you’re home. But ignoring the urge when it comes may not only make you physically uncomfortable — it can cause or aggravate constipation by weakening the signals over time. Some people find it helps to set aside time after breakfast, when the coffee “kicks” in, or another meal for a bowel movement. But no matter when nature calls, answer.
Besides medications for pain, medications for depression, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease are associated with constipation. Too much calcium and iron can also lead to constipation. Calcium supplements, especially if taken with another supplement or medication that binds the stool, may also cause problems.
Fiber Fixes for Feces
Try to get at least 20 grams a day of fiber. Eat more whole fruits and vegetables; replace white rice, bread, and pastas with whole-grain products and brown rice. And don’t forget to drink at least 2 to 4 extra glasses of water a day.
Eating foods with fiber helps you feel full and stay regular. Insoluble fiber in particular can help ease constipation because it’s indigestible and doesn’t dissolve in water. It adds bulk to stool and helps it pass through the intestines faster. Good sources of insoluble fiber are whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereal.
This small, dried fruit has earned a big reputation as “nature’s remedy” for constipation. Prunes (often called dried plums) can prevent or improve constipation symptoms. They’re packed with insoluble fiber, as well as the natural laxatives sorbitol and dihydrophenylisatin.
Get moving since lack of physical activity can contribute to constipation. Exercise, however, can help make your bowel movements more regular and can reduce stress. Try a 10- to 15-minute walk several times a day. Stretching and yoga can also help constipation.
Coffee and constipation. It’s true that the caffeine in coffee can stimulate the muscles in your digestive system to contract, causing a bowel movement. So why isn’t it recommended as a fix for constipation? Coffee can actually make stools harder to pass because it is also a diuretic, so it draws liquid out of stools. If you are constipated, avoid coffee and other diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated tea and cola.
Depending on the type of over-the-counter laxative you use, you may need to wait a few minutes or a few days to produce a bowel movement. A suppository, like Ducolax, might work within an hour.
Stool softeners prevent constipation by allowing stools to absorb more water from the colon. They prevent feces from hardening — softer stools are easier to eliminate from the body. In some cases, your doctor prescribes stool softeners after surgery when you need to avoid straining during bowel movements.
Castor oil is a powerful laxative. But like other laxatives, it should not be used long-term. Overusing laxatives can hurt your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and some medications. Castor oil can damage the bowel muscles, nerves, and tissue if overused — all of which can cause constipation. Use it only with a doctor’s guidance.
Blood in a bowel movement is not always serious, but you should always call your doctor if it happens. Bright red blood is usually from hemorrhoids or tears in the anal lining called fissures. Constipation and straining during bowel movements can be the cause. Maroon or tarry black blood or clots usually mean bleeding is coming from higher in the gastrointestinal tract. The cause may be more serious.
Bottom Line: It is nice to be normal and have a BM every day. Failure to do so, is not a reason to call 911. If you have a change in your bowel habits contact your physician. Your colon will thank you!

Is Your Watch Set to Universal Time?

January 1, 2012

Another wonderful article by my friend, Neil Neimark, M.D.

There are some books we keep by the bedside for “instant inspiration” in a world filled with too much uncertainty and confusion.

One such book is entitled Small Miracles: Extraordinary Coincidences from Everyday Life by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal (Copyright1997, Adams Media Corporation, Holbrook, MA ISBN: 1-55850-646-2).

In the preface to this wonderful book, Bernie Siegel, M.D., the famous Yale author and surgeon tells an extraordinary story about one of his patients.

This patient of Dr. Siegel’s had an appointment with another doctor on what was a very busy day. The doctor was running late and the waiting room was filled with upset patients. As the wait grew longer and longer, many patients became impatient, leaving the office in order to keep other appointments and obligations. Dr. Siegel’s patient was tempted to leave as well, but “something” compelled him to stay and wait it out. As the minutes passed, more and more patients decided to leave. Repeatedly staring at his watch, Dr. Siegel’s patient began to doubt the wisdom of his decision to wait. Finally, after waiting a full two hours, the nurse arrived at the door to the waiting room and called his name, “Kirimedjian!”

The patient, delighted, jumped to his feet, only to notice another man simultaneously jump to his feet from the other side of the waiting room! Both men looked at each other, somewhat stunned. Realizing this was too much of a coincidence to share such an unusual name, they approached one another to inquire as to their respective identities. The patient was astonished to discover that the man on the other side of the room was his father, whom he hadn’t seen in 22 years.

As the story goes, when the patient was a young child, his parents had divorced. At that time his father was an abusive, alcoholic parent and had been denied any visitation rights. The patient grew up, never knowing his father. Now after 22 years, an opportunity for reconciliation was possible, all due to the patient’s unexplainable impulse to wait it out!

So often in life, we want things to run on our schedule, in our time frame. But Bernie Siegel teaches us to respect what he calls “universal time”, the idea that the universe has a different — and often more important — schedule for us.

Sometimes, getting where we think we must get to is not the place we need to be. This is perhaps why God arranges flat tires, misplaced car keys, traffic jams and the like.

We need to be open to allowing things to unfold in a way that we can see the good (reuniting with an estranged father) even in the bad (having to wait 2 hours to see the doctor).

My Peruvian wife, Marta, often tells me of a wonderful saying in Spanish: “El hombre propone y Dios dispone.” This translates roughly: “Man plans, God decides.”

We need to set our watches to “universal time.”

In so doing, we can stop the incessant rushing and begin to listen for the greater good in what appears to be a frustrating, inconvenient or disturbing event.

We can open up to the coincidences in our lives and begin to find the greater meaning possible.

Sometimes getting a cold that won’t go away and drains our energy (bad thing) can help us to slow down and take the needed rest we have been denying ourselves (a good thing).

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes a flat tire is just a flat tire. Sometimes a traffic jam is just an annoying traffic jam. But by becoming open to the possibility that it may be more, a new world of coincidence opens up to us, and small miracles can begin to happen.

Till next time, be on universal time. And, be well. In body and soul,