The Ultimate Men's Health Glossary
When it comes to the language of fertility, we have to admit – a lot of the lingo tends to favor the ladies’ side of the equation. From AMH levels, to basal body temperature, to cycles, moms-to-be have a whole list of ABCs to learn as they go through treatment.
But it’s November – or should we say, Movember – and it’s the month of the man! We’re shining a light on some health concerns that impact the male population before, during, and after family building. We know that your health isn’t just about your fertility – it starts before you (or your partner) get pregnant, and continues throughout your life, and that of your child.
Keep reading for your ultimate guide to men’s health terms – and why it’s important to know each of them!
The Lifelong Men’s Health Guide
Many of us know this one already. Aerobic exercise is one way to stay at a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy! Examples of this kind of cardiovascular conditioning include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and playing sports like basketball and soccer.
Anxiety is a normal condition where an event or thought may trigger constant nervousness, stress and worry. There are so many ways to relieve anxiety such as meditation, breathing exercises and activities. Everyone deals with different forms of anxiety, and has different ways of coping. During Movember, we highlight this condition to remind the guys in our life that connecting with friends and talking through some feelings and fears can be such a good thing.
Yearly check-ups are a must to maintain a lifestyle – even if you feel perfectly fine! Think of it as performing maintenance on a car so it doesn't break down.
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy or surgery can affect your future sperm production in a significant way, so we suggest freezing sperm prior to treatment. Frozen sperm can be thawed and used in the IVF laboratory safely, even after years of being cryopreserved. Your oncologist can refer you to a fertility practice that they work with regularly, to make sure you get the best care.
It goes without saying that eating healthfully can decrease your chances of many disorders and diseases. Three main tips to eating healthfully: keep it balanced, eat as many whole foods as possible, and live by the mantra, “everything in moderation.”
Any condition that effects the heart is considered a Heart Disease. A lot of families who have a history of Heart Disease must always keep an eye on their health. To avoid heart disease it’s important to eat healthfully, stay physically active, and moderate your alcohol consumption.
Male Factor Infertility:
This can be caused by a number of factors, including certain disorders, lifestyle choices, and cancer treatments. If you are diagnosed with cancer, be sure to consult your oncologist and a reproductive endocrinologist about fitting in sperm cryopreservation before treatment begins (see more on that above). You can always test your fertility with a simple semen analysis.
Mental health influences a person's well-being as well as how they may think or act. There are many signs that you or someone you know may be suffering from mental illness, and it’s important to be aware of them in order to get necessary help. Some signs of poor mental health are: extreme mood swings (very happy or very sad/depressed), constant fear, worry or anxiety, altered sleep patterns and eating habits, and changes in social life. It is always important to get professional help if you ever feel this way. Mental health professionals will respect your privacy, and are there to help you cope.
Movember is one of the leading charities geared towards men’s health, leading the charge in focusing research efforts and raising awareness. Movember focuses on three key men’s health issues – prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and depression.
This is a tiny gland in the male body that plays an important role in your portion of the reproductive process.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Getting tested regularly for prostate cancer is important, because some people can be asymptomatic - leading to late diagnosis and possible cancer spread. For men over the age of 40, discuss your personal risk of prostate cancer with your doctor, and ask about prostate screening.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test:
A PSA test is a simple blood test, which measures your levels of prostate specific antigen (a protein produced by your prostate). If your PSA level seems high, your doctor will most likely advise you to get some additional testing done.
Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility:
If you or your partner has ever gone to see a fertility specialist, you may have heard them refer to themselves as an “REI” (no, not like the camping goods store). REI stands for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility – the chosen medical specialty of fertility doctors. These amazing people will diagnose and treat infertility, and will work with you every step of the way to build the family of your dreams.
A semen analysis is an easy test of male fertility – most semen analyses will test your sample for the following three factors: sperm concentration, motility, and Total Motile Sperm (TMS).
The perfect place for a testicle exam! You know your body best, so be sure to conduct regular testicle checks to make sure there are no changes in the size or shape of your testicles, or any unusual tenderness.
In combination with aerobic exercise, strength training can have a great impact on your health. It helps regulate your metabolism, builds lean muscle, improves bone health, controls body fat, promotes blood flow, and can serve as a great stress reliever.
Editor’s note – while we love strength training and aerobic exercise for mental and physical health purposes, some HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts may raise the temperature of your testicles, and impact your sperm concentration and motility. If you’re trying to conceive or thinking about it in the near future, speak to your fertility specialist about the best workouts for you.
This is an important component of your mental and physical health. Stress can increase your likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues, so try your best to manage it with exercise, meditation, simple breath exercises, and time spent with loved ones.
This is what happens when your brain tissue can’t get enough oxygen. This is a serious issue and if you ever feel you may be having one you should immediately get medical attention.
Testicular cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer in young men in the United States, and is the third men’s health issue that we focus on during Movember. Regular self exams (see below) are an important factor for diagnosing and catching testicular cancer early.
Seventy percent of men have never examined their testicles! Self-checks at home can be key to prevention and early detection. The best prevention is monthly palpation of your testicles (as they say, know thy nuts). Here's how to do it: in the shower under warm water, palpate each testicle between your 2nd and 3rd fingers to get an understanding of the texture and size of your testicles. See if you notice anything different, and be comfortable knowing what your own body feels like. If you notice a mass lump, change in size, or experience any pain, contact your doctor ASAP.
Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testes and adrenal glands that plays an important role in developing male reproductive tissues. Testosterone is not exclusively a male hormone, but testosterone levels in the male body are significantly higher than the average female. It is also what helps you increase muscle and bone mass, and is the reason you can grow a beard!
Type 2 Diabetes:
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic condition, that many of us may recognize by its former name – adult-onset diabetes. Diabetes impacts the way that your body deals with sugar through the production of naturally-occurring insulin. Type 2 Diabetes cannot be cured, but can be managed through diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and insulin treatment.
Want to learn more about optimizing your health this Movember?
About Emma Lott
Emma is the brand specialist for Gay Parents To Be, helping to build awareness of the brand not only as a direct path to parenthood, but also as a general resource for fertility information in the LGBTQ community. She loves the chance to attend conferences on LGBTQ health and family building, and meet prospective patients.