Archive for November, 2016

“Oh, my aching balls!” -Blue Balls

November 26, 2016

“Oh, my aching balls!” A comment that every young man makes or thinks when he is engaged in heavy sexual activity and his testicles are causing aggravating pain and discomfort. This blog will describe the condition and what can be done to relieve the discomfort.

‘Blue balls’ is the popular slang term for vasocongestion in the testicles. The testicles do not actually turn blue. Instead, a bluish tint appears on the skin of the scrotum because of the increase in blood supply to the area that is trapped there by constriction of the venous blood vessels giving the bluish discoloration. However, this may not happen in all young men.

Cause and Symptoms
When a sexually-matured male is aroused, the following happens:
• His parasympathetic nervous system increases its inputs, causing an increased flow of blood and lymphatic fluids to the genital area.
• Concurrently, muscles that control fluid outflow constrict, resulting in a net increase of fluid concentration.
• These actions combine to ensure that regional blood pressure is high enough to sustain an erection for penetration during sexual intercourse.
• During this process, the testicles also increase in size by about 25 – 50 percent.
When the male reaches orgasm and ejaculates, the constricted muscles relax and the additional fluids flow out from the genital area. The penis and testicles then return to their normal size.
However, when there is prolonged sexual arousal without eventual ejaculation, the bodily fluids will pool, causing congestion in the testicles and the prostate region. The blood becomes oxygen-deprived and turns bluish, giving the condition its slang term, blue balls.
The technical term for this condition is vasocongestion, which is often accompanied by a cramp-like ache at the lower abdomen, pain and tenderness of the testes, and a lingering sensation of heaviness and discomfort in the lower body.
The female homologue is usually referred to by the more general term ‘pelvic congestion’ or ‘pink ovaries’.

Treatments
Vasocongestion does not cause any short- or long-term physical harm to the person, and neither is it contagious or infectious. Although it can be very uncomfortable, it is definitely not life-threatening or an emergency. Even if nothing is done, the symptoms usually subside within an hour of onset.
If one is eager for a quick relief, the easiest way is through ejaculation, i.e., masturbation or enough genital stimulation that results in an orgasm and ejaculation. That will jump-start the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing the blood flow through the genital area and dissipating the build-up of fluids.

Bottom Line: Blue balls is not a serious condition. However, if the symptoms last for several hours or days after sexual arousal has ceased, then do consult a health care professional to be certain that there is not an underlying cause(s) of the pain and discomfort.

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Nuts For Your Prostate Gland

November 26, 2016

Nearly 250,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer.  Several million men will have benign enlargement of the prostate gland which can wreck havoc on a man’s quality of life.  This article will discuss the use of nuts for preventing prostate disease.

At this time, there is no specific way to prevent prostate cancer.  but you may reduce your risk by following a few of these suggestions.

  • Consume ample servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Choose foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Avoid high-fat foods and excessive red meat
  • Exercise regularly, 4-5 times a week for 20 minutes at a time
  • Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any signs and symptoms that may worry you or increase your risk.

Men suffering from prostate diseases may significantly reduce their symptoms by consuming nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts.  The findings showed that people who consume nuts five or more times in a week had a 34 per cent decreased risk of mortality due to prostate cancer in comparison to those who consumed nuts less than once per month.

Just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (about 1/3 cup) can have a positive impact on health including heart health.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer, the team evaluated 47,299 men, for an overall period of 26 years.

The participants were diagnosed with prostate cancer and only 10 per cent of them died from prostate cancer. These findings add to the growing body of evidence showing that nuts should be part of a healthy diet.

Bottom Line: Although no one knows what are the root causes for prostate disease, having a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and eating nuts may just improve the symptoms of prostate problems.  If you have any questions, speak to your doctor.

 

Smoking Is Also Hazardous to Your Urologic Health.

November 26, 2016

It is given that smoking is deleterious to your lungs and heart causing lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease, just to name a few of the common medical conditions causes by smoking.  There are also urologic conditions that are affected by smoking.

Bladder cancer is 4th most common cancer in men with nearly 80,000 new cases each year in the united States.  Smoking causes harmful chemicals and drugs to collect in the urine.  These toxic chemical affect the lining of the bladder and increase your risk of bladder cancer.

Nearly 30 million American men have erectile dysfunction or impotence  This is usually due to a reduction of poor blood flow to the penis.  Smoking can harm blood vessels, when decrease the blood flow to the penis.  As a result, men will have difficulty obtaining and keeping an erection adequate for sexual intimacy.

Kidney cancer is in the top ten most common cancers in both men and women with nearly 60,000 new cases every year.  Smoking puts noxious chemicals from the lungs into the blood stream where it is filtered into the kidneys and can cause kidney cancer.

Kidney stones affect 1 million Americans and smoking is a known cause of having kidney stones and also for having recurrent kidney stones.

Painful bladder syndrome affects 12% of women.  The condition is irritated by smoking and produces more symptoms of pain and discomfort in the pelvis.

Overactive bladder (OAB) affects more than 30 million American men and women.  Smoking irritates the bladder and increase the frequency of urination.  Smoking also is associated with coughing that can increase urinary leakage.

Infertility caused by male factors affects 50% of all problems related to difficulty with achieving a pregnancy.  Smoking can harm the genetic make-up in eggs and sperm.  The infertility rate for smokers in nearly twice that for those men who do not smoke cigarettes.

Bottom Line:  Most people are looking for reasons to stop smoking.  There are so many medical conditions that are caused by or are made worse by smoking.  Talk to your doctor about some of the effective ways to achieve smoking cessation.

It’s Time To Talk About Testosterone

November 25, 2016

Testosterone (T) is a hormone produced in the testicles of men (and in the ovaries of women to a much smaller amount than in men.  Testosterone is often referred to as the male sex hormone.  It is normal for the testosterone level to decrease in men after age 30 at a rate of 1-3% a year but men don’t develop symptoms until late 40 or early 50.  During puberty, testosterone helps young boys develop male physical features like body and facial hair, i.e., a beard, and muscle strength.  Testosterone is also needed to help with the development of sperm.

Low T is defined as a decrease in the blood level of the hormone, usually less than 300ng\dl plus symptoms including decrease in libido or sex drive, lethargy, changes in mood, loss of muscle mass and decreased energy levels.

The diagnosis of low T requires a medical history of symptoms, a physical exam and a blood test that confirms a decrease in the hormone level.

Testosterone replacement is possible using injections of testosterone, topical gels, a nasal spray of testosterone, and insertion of testosterone pellets (Testopel).  The side effects of testosterone replacement include an increase in red blood cells, acne, reduction in size of the testicles, and infertility.  It is therefore important to discuss with your doctor if you are still planning to have a family as you should not use testosterone replacement therapy.

Caution:Don’t take testosterone if you don’t have medical reasons for doing so

Don’t’ take testosterone if your trying to achieve a pregnancy

If you use testosterone replacement, then get a routine check-up and blood tests at least every six months

Bottom Line: Millions of American men suffer from low T.  If you have symptoms and a blood test that confirms low testosterone, then you may be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy.

Treating Prostate Cancer By Close Monitoring or ActiveSurveillance

November 25, 2016

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in older men and second most common cause of death due to cancer in men over the age of 50.  This year more than 180,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 30,000 men will die of this disease.  There are multiple treatment options for prostate cancer including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and now there’s a new option: watchful waiting or active surveillance.  Active surveillance means no treatment but careful monitoring with regular digital rectal exams, PSA testing, and possible other tests and\or imaging studies.  This blog is intended to help men who have received a diagnosis of prostate cancer to help guide them in the decision of active surveillance or more aggressive standard treatment options.

What you need to know

The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ at the base the bladder and surrounds the urethra or the tube in the penis that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  The prostate gland’s function is to make the fluid that mixes with the sperm and provides the sperm with nourishment to help fertilize an egg and start the process of conception.

For the first part of a man’s life the prostate gland provides pleasure and enjoyment.  After age 50 for reasons not entirely known, the prostate gland starts to grow and compresses the tube or the urethra and produces difficulty with urination.  Again, for reasons not entirely known the prostate cells grow uncontrollably and this results in prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a very common as one in seven American men will develop prostate cancer.

There are two tests used to detect prostate cancer: 1) the digital rectal exam and 2) the PSA or prostate specific antigen test.  PSA is a protein made by the prostate gland.  An increased level of PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer but an elevation is also seen in men with prostate gland infections and benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

Active surveillance is now considered an acceptable management option in certain men with prostate cancer.  Active surveillance is a type of close follow up. In addition to the PSA and digital rectal exam, a repeat biopsy may be indicated.  A biopsy test called a fusion-guided biopsy is one of these newer tests that combines the MRI with real-time ultrasound images of the prostate.  Genomic tests are another development for prostate cancer assessment.  These tests look at the DNA of the cancer to decide if the cancer is stable or growing.  If any of these tests indicate that the cancer is growing, you may require additional treatment.

At the present time there is no universal agreement about how often the tests should be done for men who are participating in active surveillance.  Patients who are at low risk, that is have a low PSA and a biopsy that reveals a reasonably favorable pathology report, then he can have his PSA check every six months.  It is also common to have a repeat biopsy 12-18 months after the diagnosis.

Candidates for Active Surveillance

Men with early stage prostate cancer that is confined to the prostate gland are the best candidates for active surveillance.  Also, good candidates are men without symptoms and have prostate cancer that is slow growing.  Finally, older men with serious other medical problems which may interfere with treatment are potential active surveillance candidates.

The benefits of active surveillance is that it is low cost, safe, and has no side effects.  Men are able to maintain day-to-day quality of life and not have any of the complications of treatment such as impotence\ED or urinary incontinence.  The risk is that men can become complement and not follow up as often as they should and that the cancer can grow and become more aggressive.

Bottom Line:  Prostate cancer is a common problem in middle age and older men.  Most men if they live long enough will develop prostate cancer.  However, most men with the diagnosis of prostate cancer will die with the cancer and not from it.  My best advice is to have a conversation with your doctor and see if active surveillance is right for you and your cancer.

Seven Habits That You Don’t Want to Break

November 1, 2016

Nearly all men and women in their 20’s and 30’s have a sense of invulnerability and immortality.  I know when I was that age someone who was 50 was considered old. Today I consider a 50-year old as youthful.  So what advice do I have for millennials?  In order to enjoy good health as a septuagenarian or octogenarian, you have good health habits during your younger years.  Here are 7 tips that I have taken from an article in a recent New York Times about developing good health habits.  They are easy to do and will make all the difference in the world on how you feel today and how healthy you will be tomorrow.

#1. Make the bathroom scale your new best friend. Nothing is more deleterious to your long-term health than being obese or overweight.  Give yourself an acceptable range and when you approach the higher end of that range, cut your calories or increase your exercise.

#2 become your own chef.  Your focus should be on ways to add variety to your diet and to boost the intake of vegetables and fruits. Cut down on unhealthy fats, sugar and excessive salt, i.e., no more than 1200 mg\day.

#3 Sugars, like those found in candy bars, sweetened cereals, and sugared soft drinks.  Excessive sugar has been shown to be one of the main culprits obesity and diabetes.  Excessive sugar represents empty calories with no important nutrients needed in a balanced diet.  Giving sugar to children can make them addicted to sugar which can be more addictive than heroin or cocaine!  Instead consume more fruits and vegetables.

#4 Get off the couch and get moving.  Excessive sitting is the new smoking.  Even if you can’t find time to have an exercise program you can still walk the stairs several times a day.  BTW going up is good exercise, going down is exercise but harder on your hips and knees.  You can also park your car a few blocks away from the office or on the top floor of the parking lot and then walk to work.  Ideally, you should find a way to get 20-30 minutes of activity that increase your heart rate every day.  This includes biking, brisk walking or swimming.

#5 Pay the piper if you play.  If you engage in having a good time with drinking and snacking, then promise yourself additional exercise before or after your party.

#6 Cut the portions or let the palm of your hand be your guide.  An ample serving of fish or chicken should fit into the palm of your hand.  If you find that you are gaining weight or a few more pounds than you would like, cut the portions and cut the alcohol and you can lose 3-5 pounds in just a few days.

#7 Drink plenty of water.  There are so many advantages of drinking lots of water which include:

A perfect thirst quencher  There is no better liquid to quench your thirst than water.  Many people are incorrectly informed that you only need to drink water in hot weather.  The truth is large volumes water are lost through your breath in cold, dry weather.  Although you can substitute other beverages such as colas, coffee and electrolyte drinks, there is no other drink that contains fewer calories and more nutrients than water.  In fact, affricated beverages can act as diuretics and cause the body to excrete water and important chemicals like potassium.

Water aids digestion. Water dilutes the acidity in the stomach and causes the release of enzymes necessary for digestion. Water is also a natural laxative and relieves constipation.

Water cools the body during exercise. As the body heats up during exercise, the internal thermostat promotes perspiration. Internal body temperature can be decreased with the consumption of cold water.  Cold water is best because it is absorbed into t he circulation more quickly than warm water.

Water promotes waste excretion. The kidneys are the paired organs used to remove metabolic bodily water material.  Water is essential for these incredible filters to do their work an flush out the body’s waste products.

Water carries nutrients to the cells. All of the body’[s cells are bathed in a saltwater solution. Blood moves nutrients to the cells and removes the waste products to the kidneys and liver.  Water is necessary to maintain the blood volume to carry out these vital functions.

Water reduces kidney stones. If too much calcium, oxalate or uric acid is excreted in the urine, crystals will form and start the growth of kidney stones. The best treatment to reduce kidney stones is to drink enough water to keep the particles from hitting one another and staring the crystallization process.

Water lubricates the joints. The bones glide against one another with minimal friction because of a lubricant called synovial fluid. Drinking plenty of water incases the synovial fluid and reduces e4h wear and tar on the joints.

Water promotes good skin tone. Skin elasticity is maintained when the body is well hydrated. Chronic fluid loss lead to dry, wrinkled skin.

Water is a diet aid. Drinking a glass of water before each meal leads to a sensation of fullness before you sit down to the table, thus acting as a natural appetite suppressant. Water helps the body metabolize stored fat.  If there is not adequate water to rid the body of waste through the kidneys, then the liver must be called in to do the kidney’s work.  If the liver is doing the kidney’s work, it cannot metabolize body fat and weight loss is slowed or stopped.

Water is a natural relaxer. Water is an excellent way to wash away tension. Swimming induces a feeling of calmness and exhilarates the body, similar to a jogger’s high.

How much water is enough?  The time-honored advice of drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day still holds true.  However, the more you exercise, the more you need to drink, especially if you live in New Orleans in July, August, or September.  A good rule of thumb is to drink approximately one quart of water for each hour of exercise.

Water remains one of life’s greatest medicinal drinks.  It really does keep you healthy and fit and it is good for most of life’s ailments.  Drink up!

Although these 7 suggestions may not guarantee good health, it will certainly lead to an improved lifestyle.  And as my wonderful Jewish mother might say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”