Ask Dr. John Rodriguez – Men’s Health Awareness

Every June, we come together to raise awareness about the importance of prioritizing men’s health, highlighting key issues, and promoting healthy habits that can lead to a longer, more fulfilling life.

Men’s Health Month is not just about addressing physical health concerns, but also about acknowledging and supporting mental and emotional well-being. From heart disease and prostate cancer to mental health struggles and lifestyle choices, the scope of men’s health is broad and complex. This month offers a crucial opportunity to break the stigma surrounding men’s health issues and encourage men of all ages to take proactive steps toward better health.

We sat down with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Rodriguez, to discuss and recognize the importance of men’s health and why often men avoid seeing a doctor regularly.

Question 1: What are some key factors that are associated with men’s health?

Dr. John Rodriguez: One of the biggest factors is stress levels. Men put themselves in very stressful situations. That’s kind of what they are and what they do, although lately, many have been trying to avoid stress.

For the most part, we engage in a society where we work and do whatever we can to support ourselves and our family. One of the best ways to help mitigate stress is getting good sleep and exercising. It is important to know that if you have a family history of depression and anxiety, stress can also be a contributing factor.

Question 2: According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, over 6 million men live with depression each year, are 4 times more likely to die from suicide than women, and 1 in 5 will develop alcohol dependency during their life. Can you describe some of the leading causes of these in men?

Dr. John Rodriguez: This is closely related to how we manage our stress. We are always going to have it. That’s part of life. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, or any other outlets, these are considered gateways that can help us self-medicate and get away from stress. Obviously, this is not a healthy way. You must see the health risks and the concerns, especially if you have a family history of alcohol or drug abuse.

Question 3: Why do men hesitate to see a doctor? How is their point of view of seeing a doctor different from women?

Dr. John Rodriguez: What we hear about is men are seen as the more macho species, and they don’t want to look weak in front of others, especially their spouses. Most men have to put up that image of wanting to succeed, have a successful marriage and a successful job, and when those cases happen, they are more at risk of failure, which leads to anxiety and depression. Some don’t know how to handle this kind of pressure, they may think if they see a doctor, they might be seen as weak.

Question 4: According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death among men, behind cancer and unintentional injuries. Can you explain to me the key factors that contribute to heart disease deaths among men?

Dr. John Rodriguez: Biologically, men have different cholesterol levels that are not protective against heart disease. The biggest killer for men over the age of 45 is heart disease, and sadly, a lot of it is closely related to lifestyle. Men are known to smoke and drink a lot, become more physically active, expose themselves to risky behaviors, and sometimes neglect to take proper care of their health.

If you eat unhealthily and don’t exercise, you’ll gain weight, and if you don’t get a frequent physical, you can develop high blood pressure that can lead to diabetes. All of these are the key risk factors for heart disease.

Question 5: Why do some men choose to ignore their mental health issues?

Dr. John Rodriguez: Men try to protect their image of being inferior and avoid looking weak. Most men think they can overcome anxiety, depression, and stress by themselves.

This has always been a battle; a lot of what men experience are medical maladies. They will experience headaches, chest or abdominal pains, and sometimes feel they have an appending doom when it is all mental psychiatric issues. They may think a lot of these symptoms are physical, but most of the time, they are closely related to depression and anxiety.

We hope this journey has inspired you to take charge of your health and well-being. Remember, prioritizing your health is not a one-time effort but a continuous commitment to yourself and those who care about you. By staying informed, seeking regular check-ups, embracing a balanced lifestyle, and fostering open conversations about health, you can make significant strides toward a healthier and more fulfilling life.