DR. DAWN HARPER MEN’S HEALTH
DR. DAWN HARPER | MEN’S HEALTH
MEN’S HEALTH 13 - 19 JUNE
We’re only in our mid 30s, but my partner’s started suffering from occasional bouts of impotence. He finds this really upsetting and says that the more it happens, the more he lacks confidence the next time. Should I just be patient, or is there something our GP could prescribe? Impotence is very common – it will affect most men at some time but for about 10% it’s a recurring problem. The vast majority of cases are psychological and of course once it has happened worrying about it just makes things worse as your partner has found. It’s important that you remain patient and sympathetic but it’s also worth getting him to see his doctor to rule out physical causes such as poor blood supply, side effects of drugs, or a problem with the nerves. There are drugs which help and sometimes using them breaks the vicious circle of self doubt.
My boyfriend has started taking steroids to help with weightlifting. I’ve heard they can affect penis size – is this true? There are lots of different types of steroids but the ones used by body builders are known as anabolic steroids. They were first developed in the 1930’s and it was hoped that they would help to promote growth of the skeleton and male sexual characteristics. In fact their use has been very limited by doctors and they haven’t been shown to give any clinical benefit. However, they are often abused by men like your boyfriend. They won’t change the size of his penis but they may adversely affect his sperm production. And that’s not all. People using these drugs are at risk of liver disease and there have even been reports of liver tumours in people using them long term, so please talk to him about this and get him to stop straight away.
DR. DAWN HARPER | MEN’S HEALTH 2/5
My new partner suffers with premature ejaculation. It doesn’t really bother me but it is causing him a lot of distress – please help. Premature ejaculation (ejaculating too quickly during sex) is surprisingly common. In fact surveys suggest around a third of men will experience it at some time. According to one study, the average time from a man entering a woman’s vagina to the point of ejaculation is 5.4 minutes but some men will climax much more quickly and others will take longer. It is only a problem if it causes upset to the couple. There are a few things your boyfriend could try including masturbating an hour or so before
having sex or using a thick condom which will reduce his make love the skin rips and bleeds sensation. Alternatively, try using an anaesthetic spray and so of course recently our sex which you can buy over the counter at the pharmacist life has been non-existent. He has without a prescription. Spray this onto the head of the been to the doctors about this but penis 10 minutes before having sex to decrease the he claims she was dismissive and sensitivity of the penis. suggested rubbing Vaseline into it Taking breaks during sex and day and night. There has been no thinking about something improvement and to be honest I boring is also worth a try. can’t help but think it could be something serious. Are there any suggestions that you have for what this could be or what You could also help him has caused it? Most importantly what can we do to fix it! by trying the “squeeze Please help. technique” – you will need to start masturbating him and as Don’t worry, this doesn’t sound serious. In fact it’s quite a soon as he feels he is reaching common problem. Vaseline can help minor cases which is why the point of ejaculation he your boyfriend’s doctor suggested this in the first instance but must let you know so that unfortunately if he is getting recurrent tears then the scarring you can stop and squeeze the that results can make the problem worse. He should go back head of the penis for 10 to 20 to his doctor who will probably arrange a referral to a surgeon. seconds. Then let go and wait Depending on the degree of tightness, there are a number of for 30 seconds before you options from stretching the foreskin, to making a small cut start masturbating him again. called a dorsal slit, or a circumcision. The specialist will be able It sounds very simple but to advise on which is the best for him. will take a bit of practice and ideally you should get to the stage where you can repeat I’ve read a lot about the male contraception pill and saw a this several times before he is recent report that trials have been successful. Do you know allowed to reach ejaculation. when it will be available and does it work in roughly the same way as the female version? If none of this helps though, encourage him to see his GP There has been a lot of talk about the male contraceptive and please reassure him that pill for many years but it does seem that we are getting very he needn’t be embarrassed – close now, although it is unlikely to come in pill form but as remember that 30% figure – monthly injections of testosterone, which have been shown he won’t be the first and he to lower sperm counts. Research to date is quite promising certainly won’t be the last and it seems that sperm count returns to normal within six man his doctor has seen with months of stopping the injections which means it could be a this problem. really welcome addition for men wanting to take more control of contraception but not wanting something as permanent as a vasectomy. However there will need to be a lot more work My boyfriend is having to ensure the safety of these injections before they become problems with his penis. routinely available and my guess is that it will be several years He can get an erection but before they are offered on the NHS. his foreskin is tight and so sex is very painful for him. When we have tried to
DR. DAWN HARPER | MEN’S HEALTH 3/5
I’m 21 and extremely short. At what age do males stop growing? Are there hormones I can take that will add a few inches to my height? Boys have usually reached their adult height by around 20 but I have met several who continue to grow into their twenties. If your Mum has a record of your height at 2 years old then you can predict how tall you will be by doubling it (18 months for girls) which is surprisingly accurate. If you are very short talk to your doctor but please don’t consider taking any hormones unless they are prescribed.
I have really bad dandruff! I don’t have it all the time – it seems to come and go – but it’s really embarrassing and means I can’t wear any dark colours. I’ve tried anti-dandruff shampoos but nothing seems to work. What is causing this? The skin on our scalp, just like the skin anywhere else on our bodies is constantly being renewed resulting in the shedding of dead cells. Dandruff is simply flakes of dead skin and contrary to popular belief it is usually associated with oily skin rather than a dry scalp. It is one of the most common skin complaints and is more common in men than in women, partly because the male hormone testosterone predisposes to greasy skin. It may sound horrible but we all have some fungus on our scalps and one particular fungus, called the malassezia yeast, thrives in greasy skin. It produces an acidic substance which stimulates cell turnover resulting in dandruff. Dandruff sufferers don’t necessarily have more of this yeast than those
without dandruff but they are just more sensitive to it. The most commonly used anti-dandruff shampoos contain zinc pyrithione, but if you have already tried these, you could use one containing coal tar or selenium sulphide. You will probably need to use them twice a week for the first couple of weeks and then weekly and it may take four weeks to notice an improvement. There are also shampoos containing ketoconazole, a substance which kills fungi and can be very helpful in controlling dandruff. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you as to which shampoos to try and make sure that you follow the instructions on the bottle. If you have tried these various shampoos and are still struggling, see your GP who may suggest trying a steroid shampoo or lotion possibly in combination with an antifungal treatment. He will also be able to check that this is dandruff. There are other conditions like psoriasis and eczema that affect the scalp and can be mistaken for dandruff.
I’ve got a large lump sticking into my ball sack. Is it a hernia?? It could be but without seeing you it is impossible to say and any new lump in your scrotum should definitely be checked out by a doctor. There are lots of things that can cause a swelling in your testicle. Most of them are benign and easily treated but testicular cancer occurs in young men, so please don’t ignore this lump. The vast majority of lumps in the testicles are benign and this is probably nothing to worry about but it is better to be safe than sorry and testicular cancer is completely curable if caught early. Make an appointment to see your GP today. You can request to see a male doctor if you would prefer.
DR. DAWN HARPER | MEN’S HEALTH 4/5
I’ve read there is a link between male baldness and heart attacks. Is this true? Actually, there is a link between male pattern baldness and heart disease. This was discovered by researchers in America who followed more than 20,000 male doctors over an 11 year period. They sent the doctors diagrams of balding heads and asked them which picture most resembled their hair pattern. Fascinatingly, they found that not only do bald men seem to have a higher incidence of heart disease but the more hair they had lost from the top of their heads, the greater their risk. Obviously, the baldness doesn’t directly cause heart attacks and the reason for the connection is not entirely clear but one theory is that higher androgen (male hormone) levels, as are found in balding men, may play a role. A lot of this is down to genetics and therefore out of individual control but if your boyfriend is losing his hair early, he should take a careful look at the things he can do something about like diet, exercise and smoking to reduce his risks of heart disease. D
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DR. DAWN HARPER | MEN’S HEALTH 5/5