Men’s Health Clinics: What Are They And What Do They Treat?
Men’s health clinics provide men with care equivalent to that provided by a gynecologist for women. Men have historically relied on to their primary care provider for help with male-specific health concerns. However, unlike a gynecologist, these specialists are not normally trained to address men’s health issues as specifically as a gynecologist is trained to address women’s sexual health needs.
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To meet this unmet need, men’s health clinics combine the services of many specialists to meet the needs of male clients. Some men’s health clinics are brick-and-mortar practices that restrict their practice to men. Others are online. Both have their benefits and drawbacks.
Visiting a men’s health clinic is an excellent first step towards bettering your sexual and overall health. However, it is important to set expectations for the clinic to ensure they are legitimate clinics that provide the services you’re looking for.
What Is A Men’s Health Clinic?
Men’s health clinics were originally testosterone replacement centers. Over time, they have evolved to treat physical, psychological, and sexual health. Advocates for separate men’s health clinics cite that in the United States, the life expectancy for men is on average 4.8 years lower than for women. Men are also less likely to seek medical care, acknowledge their disease symptoms, and see their primary care providers.
Types Of Services Or Specialties Offered At A Men’s Clinic
Men’s health clinics can offer a myriad of services and specialties. Many conditions treated in men’s health clinics are ones that men may feel uncomfortable discussing with their primary care providers or health conditions that have a stigma associated with them, and many men hope that wishful thinking may make them go away. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Online men’s health clinics provide a low-stress way to be evaluated for these conditions.
Erectile Dysfunction Clinic
Erectile dysfunction is a condition that makes it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection that is firm enough for satisfactory sex. There are many potential causes for ED. Practitioners in a men’s health clinic would evaluate for the reversible and irreversible causes of ED, understand the potential link between ED and cardiovascular disease, and would be familiar with a wide range of treatment options for ED.
It is important for men to participate in a shared decision-making process to choose which treatment option best suits their needs and provides the fewest risks after considering their medical history. Options include oral ED medications, injectables such as Trimix, surgical procedures, or vacuum devices. While medical treatment is needed in most cases for ED, men would also be advised on dietary modifications and exercises that may improve their symptoms from ED and their overall health.
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that has both anabolic and androgenic properties. After age 30 or so, testosterone levels decline by about 10% to 15% per decade. The fall is gradual, but by the age of 80, more than one-third of men have testosterone levels that fall within the hypogonadal range. Low testosterone levels can have significant effects on your health, including:
- Reduced energy and endurance
- Depression and lack of motivation
- Reduced sex drive
- Enlarged breast tissue
Legitimate men’s health clinics can evaluate the symptoms men are experiencing, order appropriate tests, and provide testosterone replacement therapy if it is indicated.
Peyronie’s disease is a curvature of the penis. Curvature can cause pain or difficulty with sex and psychological effects. Curvature is caused by scar tissue that develops in the fibrous tissue surrounding the erectile bodies in the penis. Scar tissue decreases the flexibility of the penis. The degree of curvature depends on the amount and placement of the scar tissue. Surgery has traditionally been the only treatment option for Peyronie’s disease. However, in 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xiaflex as a non-surgical option.
Ejaculation is when semen is released from the penis. Some men experience premature ejaculation. Others have delayed ejaculation. Approximately one-fourth of men in the U.S will experience premature ejaculation at some point in their lifetime. Premature ejaculation can be treated using psychotherapy, behavioral techniques, and medications.
Infertility affects both men and women. An inability to become pregnant after trying for 6 to 12 months can put a strain on any relationship, which can only compound the issue. Men’s health clinics provide a way for men to be tested for common causes of infertility. As couples wait until their 30s or even 40s to have children, fertility issues increase. Men have a 52% overall decrease in fertility rate between the ages of 30 and 40, and men over age 45 take five times longer to conceive a baby than men under the age of 25 and are 12.5 times more likely to take more than two years to conceive.
Men who no longer want to father a child may consider a vasectomy as a more permanent means of birth control. A vasectomy is a surgical procedure to close off the vas deferens, the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the urethra. The procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes and is typically performed as an outpatient.
When To Visit A Men’s Clinic
Interest in men’s health clinics has increased as new treatment options have been developed to treat hypogonadism, Peyronie’s disease, and erectile dysfunction (ED). Unfortunately, this interest has also been accompanied by a large industry that does not provide traditional medical care, i.e., talking to a licensed professional and receiving treatment. Instead, men enroll in a subscription service that provides testosterone injections and lab testing, mostly without supervision by qualified medical professionals.
- Between 2001 and 2011, the use of testosterone in the U.S. has tripled.
- Between 2002 and 2011, total testosterone sales globally have increased 12-fold, from $150 million in 2000 to $1.8 billion in 2011.
- In 2013, total testosterone use in men over 30 had increased from 0.52% in 2002 to 3.20% in 2013.
How To Distinguish A Legitimate Men’s Clinic From An Illegitimate One?
A legitimate men’s health clinic is supervised by a licensed medical professional who listens to a man’s concerns and symptoms, accurately makes a diagnosis, and prescribes properly tailored treatment regimens. Online clinics have made it easier for men to get discreet treatment for health issues, making it more accessible. However, men must be selective in where they choose to receive care, as all men’s health clinics are not equal in terms of the quality of care provided.
When choosing a men’s health clinic, consider the following:
- What services does the clinic offer? Do they offer services for the health condition you are concerned about? Will you need to go to a different clinic for each health condition, or does the clinic offer more comprehensive care?
- Is the clinic staffed by licensed healthcare providers? Is it clear who will be providing your treatment and their qualifications?
- How much experience does the clinic have in treating men with similar concerns as yours? What is the clinic’s reputation? Are there any reviews available online?
- How much will the treatment cost? Is the clinic transparent about its pricing?
What To Expect At Your First Visit To A Men’s Health Clinic
Men should expect that the care they receive in a men’s health clinic is comparable or better to the care they receive for other health concerns. The clinic should have transparent policies and procedures that address access and confidentiality. It should be clear how to make an appointment, whether insurance coverage is likely, and how to speak with a provider if you have any concerns after your visit. Medical care follows a typical pattern no matter what kind of care you seek: a medical history, physical exam, labs or testing, and treatment options.
A medical history is a series of questions about your current symptoms, past medical problems, family history, sexual history, any medications you are currently taking, and any allergies you might have. This information is critically important because it will help your healthcare provider better understand what diseases or conditions may be causing your symptoms and how best to treat them with the lowest risk.
New medical technology has led to a robust discussion in the medical community about the value of a physical exam, vs online exams. Sensors and apps help fill the gap by providing information on blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and heart rhythms, among other things. In addition, high-resolution cameras can allow medical providers to see rashes and other visible indicators of disease in a way that may feel more comfortable for patients.
Tests And Panels
Tests can generally be ordered no matter the setting, so the important question is whether healthcare providers are ordering recommended tests before prescribing medications. For example, testosterone replacement therapy is only recommended for men whose testosterone levels fall below a threshold. Clinics that provide testosterone replacement therapy without checking these lab values do not meet healthcare standards.
Invigor Medical offers two panels of lab tests when evaluating men for symptomatic hypogonadism:
Treatment And Medication Advice
The final step in the evaluation process is to provide treatment and medication advice. Good men’s health clinics ascribe to the shared decision-making process in which men feel like equal participants in making treatment decisions. It is important to remember that good men’s health clinics provide medical information in an easy-to-access manner that is written to be readable by the average consumer. If your clinic choice does not freely provide information and answers to questions you may have, it is time to look elsewhere.