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7 Questions Men Are Afraid to Ask

From Heart Disease to Depression

Talking to your physician about health concerns can feel awkward, especially if you have questions that are particularly personal. Here are common questions men may have about their health, answered by Northwestern Medicine Heart Failure and Heart Transplantation Physician Clyde W. Yancy, MD, and Northwestern Medicine Andrology and Infertility Physician Nelson E. Bennett Jr., MD.

My dad had a heart attack at 50. Will I?

Not necessarily, but don’t ignore the risk. While genetic factors, like a tendency for high cholesterol or family history of high blood pressure, can increase your risk for both heart disease and stroke, families do share lifestyles. The lifestyle to which you are accustomed likely began with family experiences. If anyone in your family has had an experience with heart disease at an early age, pay attention. Knowing your risk is the first key step in changing your risk. Even if your family history is not a concern, consider proactive healthy choices like eating heart-healthy foods, exercising, managing your weight and avoiding risks like tobacco use.

— Dr. Yancy

Why am I always sweating? Should I be concerned?

Excessive sweating can be embarrassing, but should it be worrisome? Sweating is your body’s way of trying to cool itself, and it is a totally normal body function. However, sweating too much can be a sign of an uncommon condition called hyperhidrosis or secondary hyperhidrosis. Peculiar sweating like cold sweats can be one of the first signs of a heart attack. Learn about more those signs here.

— Dr. Yancy

Why do I feel depressed?

Men typically have a harder time than women talking about their feelings, but there may be a link between heart disease and depression. Feeling down can impact your heart. And, having a heart attack or cardiovascular disease could trigger depression. Depression is treatable; review the symptoms and talk to your physician.

— Dr. Yancy

Will I give my partner a UTI?

urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect anyone and cannot be transmitted from one person to another. However, sex is a common cause of UTIs in women because it can introduce bacteria into the woman’s urinary tract. Men should be aware of human papillomavirus (HPV), which usually causes no symptoms but can lead to cancer in both men and women. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection because most men and women who are infected pass it on without realizing they have the virus.

— Dr. Bennett

Why does it take so long to go to the bathroom?

If you are struggling to move your bowels, there could be a few culprits to blame. Men tend to have a high-fat, low-fiber diet, which increases constipation. Similarly, too much iron or calcium in your diet could make it harder to go. If it takes you a while to start urinating, a trip to the urologist may be in order. The prostate, a small gland responsible for one of the components of semen, grows naturally with age. Trouble urinating can suggest the prostate has grown large enough to compress the urethra, making urination difficult.

— Dr. Bennett

My semen color and volume has changed. Why?

Normally white-grey in color, discolored semen can be alarming. The color of semen can vary from white to grey to yellow. However, it is not always reason for concern. Semen, which is produced in the prostate gland, passes through the urethra and can mix with yellow-tinted urine, changing the semen’s color. Other possibilities include abnormally high white blood cells, dietary changes or infrequent ejaculation. See a urologist if the semen is reddish or brown, or if you experience other symptoms.

— Dr. Bennett

I sometimes can’t get an erection. Is this normal?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or keep an erection. Occasional ED is surprisingly common and most likely attributed to stress or emotional difficulties. If this becomes more frequent over time, a trip to the urologist might be in order. ED can also be related to cardiovascular disease or diabetes, which can affect blood supply to the penis. Here is everything you need to know about ED.

— Dr. Bennett