Men’s Health

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    Last Updated: August 16, 2023

    Men’s health pertains to the male reproductive system and testosterone (an important male sex hormone).

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    What does men’s health encompass?

    Men’s health encompasses aspects of health most relevant to men, including testosterone, the testes, sperm quality and spermatogenesis, and the prostate. Most research is conducted on cisgender men, but (depending upon the conditions/biological structures investigated), it can also pertain to transgender and nonbinary people. The major conditions that men’s health encompasses are low testosterone (i.e., hypogonadism), male sexual dysfunction, male infertility, benign-prostatic-hyperplasia, and prostate-cancer.

    How could diet affect men’s health?

    Obesity and cardiometabolic disease (e.g., type-2-diabetes) are consistently associated with an increased risk of men’s health conditions, so consuming a diet that facilitates the maintenance of a healthy body weight is of the utmost importance.

    Which supplements are of most interest for men’s health?

    Supplements for men’s health are generally marketed to increase testosterone levels, boost sex drive, and improve erectile function. The following are some of the most popular options, although the research to support their efficacy is rather limited:

    Examine Database: Men’s Health

    Frequently asked questions

    What does men’s health encompass?

    Men’s health encompasses aspects of health most relevant to men, including testosterone, the testes, sperm quality and spermatogenesis, and the prostate. Most research is conducted on cisgender men, but (depending upon the conditions/biological structures investigated), it can also pertain to transgender and nonbinary people. The major conditions that men’s health encompasses are low testosterone (i.e., hypogonadism), male sexual dysfunction, male infertility, benign-prostatic-hyperplasia, and prostate-cancer.

    Why is men’s health important?

    Low testosterone is associated with numerous adverse effects such as reduced energy, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, and reduced sex drive, and benign-prostatic-hyperplasia and prostate-cancer often cause burdensome lower urinary tract symptoms. Additionally, prostate-cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide and is among the top five causes of cancer mortality in men.[3] Therefore, the maintenance of adequate testosterone levels and the management of men’s health conditions are important for both quality of life and lifespan.

    Can men’s health change over time?

    The prevalence of men’s health conditions increases with advancing age. Evidence mainly sourced from populations in the United States suggests that about 40% of men are affected by erectile-dysfunction at age 40, which increases to roughly 70% by age 70.[4] About 50% of men over age 50 show evidence of benign-prostatic-hyperplasia, which increases to more than 80% in men over 70.[5] About 99% of all prostate cancers occur in men over age 50,[6] and testosterone levels decrease by as much as 0.4–2% annually after age 40.[7]

    How could diet affect men’s health?

    Obesity and cardiometabolic disease (e.g., type-2-diabetes) are consistently associated with an increased risk of men’s health conditions, so consuming a diet that facilitates the maintenance of a healthy body weight is of the utmost importance.

    Isn't soy protein bad for men?
    Quick answer:

    Soy contains isoflavones, which are structurally similar to the main estrogen in men. This fact has raised the worry that consuming soy could have adverse effects on male sexual health; however, the best available evidence indicates that consuming soy does not affect male reproductive hormones.

    Phytoestrogens are plant compounds structurally similar to estradiol, the main estrogen in men and premenopausal women. Because soy contains isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen, concern has been raised about the possible effects of soy on men’s health.

    Thus far, two case reports have documented adverse effects such as gynecomastia, hypogonadism, reduced libido, and erectile-dysfunction from an estimated 360 mg of soy isoflavones per day for 6–12 months. However, a meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs, a much higher level of evidence than case reports) found that men’s levels of total and free testosterone were not notably affected by either 60–240 mg of isoflavones or 10–70 grams of soy protein per day.

    Accordingly, a couple of scoops of soy protein powder are unlikely to have estrogenic effects in men. If you’d like to take more, however, look for a soy protein concentrate or isolate produced through the alcohol wash method, which dramatically lowers the isoflavone content.[1]

    Keep in mind that the isoflavone content of different soy products can vary depending on several factors such as the variety of soybeans used, differences in growing and storage conditions, and different food-processing techniques.[2] You can see how it varies below.

    Isoflavone content of common soy foods

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    Reference: USDA FoodData Central Databases. Accessed Jan 18, 2019

    Which supplements are of most interest for men’s health?

    Supplements for men’s health are generally marketed to increase testosterone levels, boost sex drive, and improve erectile function. The following are some of the most popular options, although the research to support their efficacy is rather limited:

    Update History

    References

    1. ^Anderson RL, Wolf WJCompositional changes in trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid, saponins and isoflavones related to soybean processingJ Nutr.(1995 Mar)
    2. ^Erdman JW Jr, Badger TM, Lampe JW, Setchell KD, Messina MNot all soy products are created equal: caution needed in interpretation of research resultsJ Nutr.(2004 May)
    3. ^Mattiuzzi C, Lippi GCurrent Cancer Epidemiology.J Epidemiol Glob Health.(2019-12)
    4. ^Sooriyamoorthy T, Leslie SWErectile DysfunctionStatPearls.(2022-05)
    5. ^Ng M, Baradhi KMBenign Prostatic HyperplasiaStatPearls.(2022-05)
    6. ^Leslie SW, Soon-Sutton TL, Sajjad H, Siref LEProstate CancerStatPearls.(2022-07)
    7. ^McBride JA, Carson CC, Coward RMTestosterone deficiency in the aging male.Ther Adv Urol.(2016-Feb)