As a primary care physician at Vancouver Clinic, I have the privilege of helping people feel better and live healthier lives. Part of my job is to educate patients. Sometimes this means sharing new health information. Other times, it means calming fears over what someone has heard from a friend or read online. When it comes to men’s health, I’ve encountered several myths that are worth unraveling:
Myth #1: If I go to the doctor for a check-up I’ll probably have to get a prostate exam.
Fact: Most doctors no longer recommend prostate exams for average-risk men. Instead, physicians want to discuss a patient’s family history and risk factors with them. For high-risk individuals, a digital rectal exam or prostate-specific antigen test may be valuable.
Myth #2: My fatigue is a result of low testosterone.
Fact: Low testosterone is usually not the reason for fatigue, sluggishness, or low libido. Instead, it’s far more likely to be related to an individual’s lifestyle. Poor sleep, unmanaged diabetes, lack of exercise, excess weight, or unhealthy food habits are typically the cause.
Myth #3: The COVID-19 vaccine was approved too quickly to be safe.
Fact: Vaccines are the safest, most effective medications I prescribe. I’ve had both of my shots and encourage others to get the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines were developed quickly because scientists built on years of research instead of starting from scratch. They have gone through the same safety and efficacy tests as other vaccines.
Myth #4: If I don’t exercise for an entire hour it’s not worth it.
Fact: By the end of 2020, more people were dying from COVID-19 than heart disease. However, in non-pandemic years, heart disease is consistently the number one killer of men. Its antidote? Exercise. As little as seven minutes a day can help. In addition to supporting heart health, exercise is important for preserving bone health and maintaining strength. Men lose muscle mass as they age. Weight-bearing exercises can help counteract the decrease.
Myth #5: If I exercise I can eat anything I want.
Fact: Men tend not to realize how much food contributes to weight. Physical activity, which includes exercise and regular daily movement like walking, can burn off only about 10 to 30 percent of the calories people eat. For men trying to lose weight, changing how much and what they eat is much more effective.
Myth #6: I can get away with skimping on sleep.
Fact: People who don’t get a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep have worse mental health. That’s because sleep enables antioxidants in the brain to clear out all the “junk” from the day and recharge. Good sleep helps control anxiety and depression. It also helps people lose weight and regulates metabolism.
If you want to learn more about these myths or have health questions or concerns, be sure to make an appointment with your primary care provider.
Dr. Jonas Aharoni is an internist and pediatrician at Vancouver Clinic–Ridgefield. He sees everyone from adults with extremely complex illnesses to children visiting for a well-child check.