Updated: Feb 24
Back in 2019, I came across this interesting and disturbing article about men's health, which has blown my mind.
The article, from data published by The World Health Organisation (WHO), said that
"the probability of a man aged 30 dying from an NCD before 70 is almost 50 per cent higher than for a woman aged 30"
I discovered from the WHO that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are
"The four main types of noncommunicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes".
And it has really got me thinking about why this is?
The Global Action on Men's Health has attributed the problems to:
Men generally have lower health literacy levels than women
Men are more likely to kill themselves than women (14% vs 8% per 100,000 people)
Men are more likely to drink a risky amount of alcohol or partake in drugs
Men generally have less healthy diets
Men are less likely to go to a primary healthcare provider
Men, in the UK, are less likely to go to free health screenings
In my limited time of learning acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (and I'm in a classroom with 88% majority women), it does seem like (at the moment) we talk about women's issues a lot.
Fertility is not just for women
50% of infertility cases are in part caused by men.
There are two important documentaries which will be useful to watch if male infertility is a cause of concern.
Chris Hughes - Me, My Brother & Our Balls
It was a moving and enlightening documentary talking about testicular health scares and testicular cancer and their concerns about their future fertility.
Rhod Gilbert - Stand Up to Fertility
Rhod has another personal journey of infertility having discovered he has low sperm count. He wants to create a space where men can safely meet and support each other.
The NHS website offers lifestyle changes that can be made to help with having healthy sperm.
I was lucky enough to be sent, by the awesome Emma Cannon an article she wrote for the Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2015. It is called How to Optimise and Preserve Fertility: Current Research, Lifestyle Choices and Chinese Medicine
If you can get the article it really is an excellent read. But the best thing about it is she has looked at what this means in Chinese Medicine. I have added her comments to picture 3! I love being able to use my newly acquired knowledge and apply it to Western perspectives.
I have also added some stats which were in Balance London. It was some sobering reading but shows the importance of men talking about their problems.
Having read this really interesting article in the Times on erectile dysfunction I wanted to understand what this would mean from a Chinese medicine perspective.
In acupuncture, sperm is regarded as a form of Jing essence. Indeed, it is even encouraged that ejaculation should not occur too regularly, as this would deplete Jing.
Causes of erectile dysfunction in acupuncture
In Chinese medicine it is believed that the following impacts your chances of getting and or maintaining an erection:
Emotional stress and or anxiety - if your erection is affected by when you are stressed or anxious it may be that the free-flow of Liver Qi has become stagnant.
A diet which introduces damp-heat to the internal e.g. sweets, oil, alcohol may eventually drain the Kidneys
Conversely, a very cold diet may constrict the flow of Blood to the peripheries. This will also be the same if you are constantly exposed to cold conditions.
Recreational drugs such as cocaine will damage Jing and Yin
Do any of these particularly relate? It may be that you have one stand-alone pattern, but it is also very likely to have patterns running concurrently.
For example, as we discussed above erectile dysfunction may occur only when stressed? Or you may have no libido? Or it might be worse when you are tired?
Below I have included some general guidance, depending on the erectile dysfunction that most affects you.
Keeping with Liver Qi stagnation i.e. erectile dysfunction when stressed you could consider the following:
Your stress has to be addressed. If we do not deal with the root cause, unfortunately, the problem will persist
Swimming, walking and some aerobic exercise is important to provide movement of Qi
Have regular meal times and avoid alcohol
Do we recognise this in an acupuncture clinic in the real world? Do you see more women? Do we feel like men could come to us for a muscular-skeletal main complaint, but actually we could offer lifestyle advice that might help them with any of the above?
If you are male, does any of this relate to you? Is there any way we can turn this tide? Would you consider acupuncture if you thought it could help you?
As always feel free to share any comments or get in touch!
Love your fave (Letchworth) acupuncturist
I am an acupuncturist living in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire. As a mobile acupuncturist, I cover Letchworth, Hitchin, Baldock and the surrounding areas.
Some more interesting side reading I have been doing on men's health - if you are interested.
The Top Five Clinical Tips for Treating Male Infertility with Chinese Medicine - Olivia Pojer has written this awesome article for the Journal of Chinese Medicine, however, if you are not a subscriber you cannot access it. So I am adding it here because it is fantastic!
Fertility - Emma Cannon shared with me a fantastic article she wrote for the Journal of Chinese Medicine on health and fertility (for men and women). If you are able to access it, it is a fantastic read. It is called 'How to Optimise and Preserve Fertility: Current Research, Lifestyle Choices and Chinese Medicine'. Guys - the onus is on you too, if you want a baby.
Global Action on Men's Health - are doing some incredible work to highlight the need for this to be readdressed on a global scale. 10th June 2019 is the start of Men's Health Week. You can read their 'Who Self-Cares Wins' report here.