The study of men’s health began as the study of testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and male infertility. Since then, it has rapidly grown and changed. The ability to treat male-specific issues has spurred increased recognition of the study of men’s health, especially since population predictions show that nearly 2 billion men will be over the age of 50 by the year 2020. Furthermore, men’s health issues are not solely the concern of older men: all men can benefit from healthcare.
For one thing, recent research has proven that erectile dysfunction and men’s infertility can be the initial presenting symptoms of common medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, obstructive sleep apnea, renal insufficiency, and even some forms of cancer. One of the primary roles that a men’s health center serves, beyond the treatment of erectile dysfunction and male infertility, is to help with the early identification of these other medical conditions. The paradigm of men’s health should focus on the delivery of comprehensive healthcare.
As part of our recognition for male-directed health, of course, it is important to ensure that we do not take away from women’s healthcare. A look at the numbers, though, shows the obvious importance of men’s healthcare:
- According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, 52% of men have erectile dysfunction. This number rises to above 70% in men over 70 years old.
- In 2013, the annual sale of testosterone supplements in the U.S. was an estimated $2.4 billion.
- 233,000 men are annually diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- In 2011, nearly 2.7 million men in the U.S. had prostate cancer.
- According to the American Heart Association’s 2013 update, 52% of men 55-64 years old have been diagnosed with hypertension. This number rises to 72% in men over 75 years old. *
- According to the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 15.5 million men in the United States have diabetes.
Male-directed care is an exciting field that requires healthcare providers to stay current with rapid changes in technology and research. It may be most prominent in the context of urology, but the study of men’s health has implications for all areas of medicine.