Many men hesitate going to the doctor. Even if they don’t feel well, they avoid making an appointment because they are afraid of what the doctor will tell them. This is especially true when it comes to erectile dysfunction (ED) and their sex lives.
“What a lot of patients don’t understand is that erectile dysfunction can be an early marker for cardiovascular disease,” said urologist Kevin Billups, M.D. “In fact, erectile dysfunction is associated with a number of major metabolic health factors.”
Through his research, Dr. Billups said that the key to men living a healthier life is to get them to focus on self-care by managing four metabolic health factors. These include:
• Blood pressure. A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg or less.
• Blood sugar. Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL.
• Cholesterol. Patients should strive to have an LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol measure of less than 100 mg/dL.
• Waist size. Measuring the circumference at the level of the belly button for healthy men should be at least less than 40 inches and optimally less than 37 inches.
Statistics show that 88% of men have elevated numbers in at least one of these health factors. And 60% of men have two or more factors that exceed recommended levels. Left unchecked, these can lead to all of the major killers, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and cancer.
“A lot of my patients come to me with a host of symptoms. In addition to erectile dysfunction, they’re depressed, have arthritis, obesity, urinary symptoms or fatigue, to name a few,” said Dr. Billups. “There are medicines to treat these symptoms, but medicine doesn’t get to the underlying cause and the core of the problem, which is not practicing self-care. When men practice self-care, they take time to focus on nutrition and a healthier lifestyle.”
To help men think differently about how they approach their health, Dr. Billups (along with Lifestyle Strategist Tony Holt) developed a 90-Day Men’s Health Challenge. Currently, there are about 100 men in the program and more than 500 are alumni of the program. They meet weekly in small groups of 15-25 to share their progress and learn about other factors that can contribute to living a healthier life. The men are supportive of each other on the journey to better health and hold each other accountable to keep things moving forward.
The goal of the 90-Day Men’s Health Challenge is to inspire and motivate men to think differently about their health by focusing on four core components:
• Medical IQ
• Nutrition IQ
“When people make a commitment to learn about their health, they become empowered and take action to change their unhealthy habits. In addition to living their best life, they are less afraid to address issues associated with their health,” said Dr. Billups. “The beauty of this type of approach to health is that this one program can help address issues with many chronic diseases.”
Most men who commit to the program may see lessening of symptoms in as little as two weeks, physical changes within four weeks and improvement in their lab results by week six. These changes include getting off of diabetic and blood pressure medicines, less arthritis pain, improvements in mental and emotional health, less stress and less anxiety.
One participant who completed the 90-Day Men’s Health Challenge said: “When I started this, it was difficult. But now, I wonder, how could I not have made time for this? Why did I wait so long to do this?”
While the 90-Day Men’s Health Challenge helps set a foundation to build a healthier life, it is not a replacement for regular visits to the doctor to manage a chronic condition.
“This isn’t about competing with a patient’s primary care provider,” said Dr. Billups. “We share the same goals. But when a man comes to me with a reproductive or sexual health problem, I see this as an opportunity to do more than prescribe a pill or give them a shot. I want to help them establish a mentality that supports a thriving life and reduce their risk for future health issues.”