Men’s Health: The Silent [Avoidable] Epidemic & How Functional Medicine Can Help

How to live better, longer, and happier, with more energy and purpose

Men’s health issues are often overlooked both by men themselves, and by doctors and other healthcare practitioners.

The Coho Functional Medicine approach to men’s health offers in an depth, root cause approach to the underlying, often hidden problems that can compromise your quality of life (or even end it earlier than should be the case).

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For years, men have been told to “man up” and not complain about their health concerns. We think this has led to a silent epidemic of men’s health issues.

Luckily, times have started to change – there’s an increase in general awareness of prevalent chronic diseases experienced by men, and of male specific risk factors such as high stress, obesity and low testosterone levels.

Table of Contents

Men’s health: the silent epidemic

Some of the common health challenges experienced by men include;

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The leading cause of death in men

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men.

This chronic condition can be caused by:

These are all factors that can be prevented entirely, vastly improved, or completely resolved through the Coho Functional Medicine approach to men’s health.  

In our clinical practice, we find that men are less likely to have reached out to their doctors regarding health worries, and are also less likely to have routine blood tests performed that can help detect any warning signs early on, before it becomes too late.

Men’s health: the conventional medicine approach

On the whole, in conventional medicine the health problems experienced by men are treated with prescribed medications, yet they come with a host of side effects.

Additionally, there’s usually a total lack of investigation to identify the real root cause(s) to their problems.  

Whilst prescription medications, for instance blood pressure medications, statins, antidepressants and diabetes medication, may be the best option depending on the circumstances, it makes no sense to not seek to understand – and then address – the underlying imbalances, which if left unchecked, can manifest as other health issues in the future.

A root-cause, evidence-based Functional Medicine approach to men’s health not only addresses your immediate health concerns, but it can minimise your risk of future chronic diseases, and can leave you feeling better than you’ve ever felt before.

Men’s health: low Testosterone

Low testosterone levels can be detrimental to a man’s health and wellbeing. It can lead to:

(1, 2)

Loss of muscle mass and / or increased body fat caused by low testosterone is a driver for many chronic diseases in men.

Changes in body composition can increase the risk of:

Eating right for your body type, genetics, stress levels, and metabolism are all key, in addition to addressing low hormone levels.

Testosterone levels naturally decline with age, with a reduction of 1.6 – 3% yearly after the age of 40 (3).

One of the big problems in understanding whether you’re low in testosterone or not, is conventional medicine testing and the ‘normal’ ranges that are used.

You may have your testosterone level checked with your doctor, and told it is normal, with only one marker checked, and with a very broad range applied – so that ‘normal’ result may not mean much.

To understand how much testosterone is actually being produced, several markers should be tested at the same time:

The reference ranges should also be age-adjusted to reflect the anticipated drop in testosterone production.

This drop isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ or optimal, but a decline that is getting worse with time, likely due to nutritional and lifestyle factors.

Lifestyle factors such as stress reduction techniques and exercise (particularly strength training), and optimal nutrition, can:

Low levels of:

Can also reduce testosterone levels (4).

A study published in 2011 found that overweight men with a vitamin D deficiency, who took a vitamin supplement daily for one year, had on average a 30% increase in testosterone levels (5). 

That’s a significant correlation.

While hormone replacement therapy may be an option, taking testosterone replacement can reduce a man’s natural production of testosterone and thereby cause significant fertility problems.

Men’s health: depression

Depression can have serious health consequences and affects millions of people worldwide.

 Men are no exception.

However, for many years, depression has been one of the most underdiagnosed and undertreated mental health conditions in men.

That’s starting to change, but there’s a long way to go.

Men often feel pressured to hide their emotions or toughen up when faced with stressors or challenges.

In fact, research has shown that men are more likely than women to keep their feelings bottled up, making them less likely to seek help for depression.

Doctors are also less likely to correctly diagnose depression in men, compared to women.

There are many causes to depression, including:

In the Coho Functional Medicine approach to men’s health:

Are some of the additional root causes to depression.

Men’s health: fertility issues

Infertility can affect men, almost as frequently as it affects women.

In around 40-50% of couples struggling with fertility, there is a male factor, i.e. a fertility issue in the male partner. 

Hormonal imbalances, inflammation, insulin resistance, lack of antioxidants and structural abnormalities are some of the reasons for decreased fertility rates in men.

Nutritional and lifestyle modifications can profoundly improve fertility in men, as we see every time with our male fertility clients.

Men’s health: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as BPH, is a common condition that many men experience as they age.

It occurs when the prostate gland grows in size and presses against the urethra, causing various urinary symptoms.

BPH affects approximately 50% of men over the age of 60 and 80% of men over the age of 80 (6).  

The symptoms associated with BPH can vary from person to person.

Some common symptoms include:

In severe cases, BPH can lead to urinary tract infections and bladder stones.

Although it’s considered a non-cancerous condition and does not increase the risk for prostate cancer, it can significantly impact a man’s quality of life.

Several classes of medication are prescribed for BPH (before surgery is considered) and doctors may advise on simple nutritional changes such as eating more fibre to prevent constipation (which can apply more pressure to the bladder) and reducing fizzy drinks, alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners.

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As this is such a common condition in men over the age of 50, it’s worth considering the main risk factors for this condition, which are abdominal obesity and family history

BPH is associated with a high amount of an androgenic hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

This is potent androgenic hormone that has twice the effect on the prostate as testosterone and is responsible for the growth of the prostate gland.

There are very effective nutritional strategies that can help to reduce the hormone DHT, that include:

Other factors that can increase DHT include:

The herb, Saw Palmetto (8, 9), and antioxidants such as lycopene (9), and plant sterols (9) like beta-sitosterol, have been extensively studied in BPH with positive outcomes.

These natural strategies can reduce BPH symptoms and improve quality of life.

Complex cases

The truth is that most men coming to see us have several signs and symptoms that they are looking to resolve.

Some if not all, of these symptoms can be non-specific, making them difficult to diagnose in conventional medicine.

One case we had in our clinic is a male aged 36, presenting with:

From a medical perspective, these symptoms are difficult to treat –  there isn’t one pill that addresses this set of signs and symptoms.

Yet a systems-biology, Functional Medicine approach to men’s health identifies underlying imbalances that could be triggering a multitude of symptoms. 

While the protocol for this client involved a number of different interventions – nutritional, lifestyle and supplement based, what likely made the most impact was:

Just eight weeks later, all symptoms were gone, except for the haemorrhoids which haven’t completely healed yet – they are definitely less inflamed, there’s significantly less bleeding and the pain and discomfort is much better.

Men’s health: 15 hidden signs that your health needs attention

If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, you should really get a comprehensive blood test performed to identify any imbalances.

The blood tests should include markers that are early indicators of risk (not usually tested by conventional doctors).

Otherwise, it’s very common to run some basic bloods with your doctor only to find that everything comes back ‘normal’, and you don’t know about an imbalance until something is clearly very wrong.

Men’s health: Functional Medicine testing

So often our male clients have had very few investigations performed, or they’ve had the standard medical blood tests, that are designed to highlight significant problems only.

Everyone deserves to know how their body is functioning and what it might be lacking to function optimally.

We don’t have to wait for there to be a medical issue before we can start to put right subtle imbalances – that are already causing harm and increasing risk for chronic disease. 

Take testosterone as an example, even a mild testosterone deficiency, before testosterone is flagged as ‘low’ by conventional medicine testing, can result in symptoms.

At Coho Health, we have hundreds of testing options available to us, from standard blood tests all the way through to advanced functional testing.

Some examples of functional testing are below:

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The Wrap...

Men’s health issues are often under-investigated.

This is worrying, as underlying imbalances go undetected, and can unfortunately manifest in more serious health concerns later on.

A comprehensive assessment can pinpoint health risk factors early on meaning they can be addressed before health is adversely affected.

Taking action on any signs and symptoms experienced, no matter how mild they are, makes sense for your health now and in the future.

Many common men’s health concerns such as low testosterone levels, chronic stress and prostate issues are ignored.

But addressing these through the Coho Functional Medicine approach to men’s health can be life changing.

Digging deeper than conventional blood tests helps provide clear answers and flags any issues with precision.

This allows you to optimise your health and wellness, meaning a better, longer, happier, and more energetic life.

To your optimised, healthy future,

Dee & the Coho Health team

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