Friday, March 16, 2012

Introducing the REPRIMAND law

As men age, their testosterone levels can drop.  According to the Mayo Clinic, this can be as high as 1% per year at age 30, and by age 70, many men can have only half the testosterone their body needs.  Up to 20% of men over 60 can have levels low enough to require medical treatment!  What can this cause?

  • Sexual changed like erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual desire, or infertility.
  • Sleep problems like insomnia or constant sleepiness
  • Body changes including weight gain (i.e. your gut!), loss of muscle, reduced endurance, loss of body hair, and swollen or tender breasts.  Yes guys, breasts!
  • Emotional changes like depression, lack of self-confidence, and memory or concentration.
Low testosterone (also called "male menopause," "androgen deficiency," "Low T," or "andropause") literally robs you of your manhood.  What is worse, many studies show a relationship that low testosterone increases the risk of prostate cancer, and possibly its severity (i.e. how quickly it grows, spreads through your body, and kills you).   In other words, "male menopause" doesn't just kill your mojo, it can kill you.

The nation so focused on issues of women's health, that it is ignoring the importance and urgency of men's issues like Low-T and prostate cancer.  We must legislate mandatory prostate exams in all men seeking treatment for symptoms of low testosterone, including all those listed above.  Consider this website, that only lists a host of blood tests needed to diagnose Low T.  Or this one, that gives a host of problems for men to rule out as the cause of symptoms, but does not recommend that men ask to include a prostate exam.   We imagine that too often, men have the following conversations with their doctor about erectile dysfunction:

MAN: "I can't get it up anymore.  Can I have Cialis?"
Doctor: "Certainly, but I need to run a few tests to make sure it is safe for you."
MAN: "Sure, as long as it isn't a rectal exam."
Doctor: "Well these are important for your general health but not really necessary for Cialis."
MAN: "Phew.  Then skip it doc!"

By legally requiring that all doctors and healthcare professionals give men a full prostate exam when treating not only issues of erectile dysfunction, but any symptoms that point towards low testosterone, we can ensure that men receive the critical, preventative care they need.  Prostate cancer accounts for 10% of the cancer deaths among men in this country. That number is too high!  If manual (also known as digital) prostate exams can save even a fraction of those lives, and if men with abnormal testosterone are more likely to die from prostate cancer, then such tests must be mandatory to ensure we aren't killing the patient through an incomplete cure.

That is why we are putting men with Low-T in the crosshairs of medical preventative care.  Early diagnosis saves money and lives.  Can we afford to ignore our men any longer?  The REPRIMAND law (Required Exam of PRostate In Male ANdrogen Deficiency) will require doctors to give a manual (or "digital" because they use their finger) rectal and prostate exam to every male patient presenting with symptoms that point toward low testosterone.  Follow this blog as we explore the rationale, benefits, and raise awareness of this critical piece of male healthcare legislation.

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