Update on Male Contraception: Do Vasectomies Still Rule?

the male pill
Wondering if there’ll ever be a “little pink pill” for male oral contraception (Courtesy Unsplash)

I know you’re wondering: What’s up with the male pill? Exactly where are we with male contraceptives other than condoms or vasectomy? Well, it’s a good time to ask as it’s now very clear that the desire for alternatives to vasectomy is great and growing. Studies of couples around the globe found that 25-75% of them would use a male hormonal contraceptive. That means that between 44 million and 130 million men in those nine surveyed countries alone would consider a male pill. That’s a need indeed!

A Storied Past

Contraception has been defined by innovations on the male side for almost 5000 years:

3000BCE: Evidence of condom use made from animal bladder or intestine or linen cloth in Crete and Egypt.

1800 BCE: Spermicides made by combining crocodile feces and fermented dough in Egypt

1830: First vasectomy performed in a human by R. Harrison in London. Its popularity rose dramatically after WWII. The first national program for vasectomy was launched in India in 1954

1855: The first rubber condom is made by…wait for it…Charles Goodyear, who later invented the rubber tire.

Over the last century, however female contraceptive innovations surpassed male contraception like it was standing still and female contraceptives are currently the preferred choice for most couples by a wide margin (5:1). What happened here? The most glaring issue is that funding has been sporadic as pharmaceutical companies haven’t been interested in developing male pills due to high development costs and the fear of lawsuits.

The Male Pipeline

Approaches to male contraception involve  stopping sperm production, rendering sperm immotile so they don’t move, or blocking the exit path from the testicle. They can be hormonal, non-hormonal or surgical in nature. There is currently one hormonal male contraceptive in clinical trials: a non-oral testosterone-progesterone gel applied to the skin daily to turn off or turn down sperm production. The goal is to reduce sperm to less than 1 million/mL in the semen. The questions are whether it can do this reliably in all men (remember the gold standard is vasectomy which is 99.99% effective) and whether hormonal side effects are tolerable: acne, moodiness, changes in sex drive or erections. After all, having significant sexual side effects from a pill that aims to take the worry out of sex kind of defeats the purpose, wouldn’t you say?

There is also good research developing on a sperm binding agent called Eppin that renders sperm immotile so they just sit there and can’t reach the egg to fertilize it. It’s being billed as “non-hormonal” and “reversible” but it has only been shown to be effective as an immunocontraceptive in monkeys (i.e., essentially a vaccine). It’s not clear to me how complete the sperm motility block generated with this pill can be, as we all know that sperm love to wiggle. Also, I am not entirely sure how reversible anything is with the human immune system as it literally remembers everything that it has ever seen. To date, this approach has not seen clinical trials. Lastly there is ADAM*, a non-hormonal, non-oral, hydrogel polymer “plug” that blocks the flow of sperm in the vas deferens without interrupting fluid flow. It is essentially a “screen door” for sperm and should be an improvement over the classic 100-year-old vasectomy, especially if it lives up to its promise of being reversible. It’s also in clinical trials right now. So, there’s a lot of window shopping in male contraceptive research right now, but no available product inventory.

Vasectomies Rule

So, it appears that we are left with the good ole’ vasectomy. Tried and true, nonhormonal and compliance-free, nothing on earth beats it in terms of reliability. In fact one of the reasons it’s so well-loved is that you don’t have to think about doing something every time sex is contemplated. All set to go, time after time after time. And, it has new and improved versions including the no-scalpel vasectomy, the Brosectomy® and the Nitrous-powered vasectomy, all developed with the goal of making the procedure as much of a “non-experience” as possible.

*Disclosure: I advise this company.

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Case Report: Disease Causing Low Testosterone: Look and You Shall Find

Male Fertility Specialist Los Angeles, CA
Your empty tank can be refilled but it’s good to ask why it emptied (Courtesy: Unsplash)

He came to my office out of sorts, looking for answers to his medical issues. As a 30-year-old, he had been experiencing fatigue, depression, low sex drive and erectile dysfunction for 8 years! Knowing that the average young male thinks about sex every 10 minutes during waking hours and ever so rarely fails to have an erection, I was very concerned for him and took his symptoms very seriously. He had seen his primary care provider, an endocrinologist and a neurologist before me. He was given antidepressants, psychotherapy and other treatments to no avail. This led to a diagnosis of low testosterone and subsequent treatment with testosterone injections. Like a recharged Energizer® bunny, testosterone replacement revived him entirely, making him feel “absolutely better in every way.” All good. Yet, he sat in front of me wondering whether or not he would have to take testosterone for the rest of his life, maybe 60+ years! He was more worried about how he would stay fertile when he learned that testosterone therapy acts as a contraceptive.

The Bottom of Things

I am a “root-cause” guy. By figuring out why things happen, you have the best chance for cure. The simple question here is: What was causing the testosterone drain on this young man, and could it be reversed? So, I went to work.

His medical history was a blank slate for risk, including no pot or other drug use, no untimely stress, and no sleep apnea or obesity. His physical examination was also unremarkable with normal testicle size and no varicoceles. The finding of normal sized testicles told me that whatever happened to his testosterone occurred after puberty and was not a lifelong problem of testicular failure. His blood work showed no diabetes, anemia, prolactin or thyroid issues, all of which can be associated with low testosterone.

But then I saw it, deep within his bundle of laboratory studies: his blood counts were high. He was polycythemic. But why? Well, just being on testosterone could do this, but he wasn’t taking high enough, anabolic doses of testosterone. Then, I came upon blood tests taken before he started testosterone and, lo and behold, he was polycythemic then too. Bingo! The diagnosis: hemochromatosis.

A Bloody Disease

Hereditary hemochromatosis is caused by a mutation in a gene that controls the amount of iron your body absorbs from food. It occurs in 1 of every 200-300 people and is found far more often in men than women. Because of this gene defect, excess iron is absorbed and then gets stored in body organs like the liver, pancreas and spleen. Over time, the stored iron causes scarring and organ damage that may lead to liver disease, diabetes and heart failure. Infertility, erectile dysfunction and low testosterone are also consequences of hemochromatosis. And, left untreated, it can be fatal.

You’ll never guess how it’s treated: Bloodletting (now known as therapeutic phlebotomy). Bloodletting, or draining of a patient’s blood to prevent or cure disease, was the most common medical procedure performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of over 2,000 years. And it still has application today. Does it cure hemochromatosis? No, but it prevents damage to organs by keeping iron from accumulating in them and results in an essentially normal lifespan.

So, this root cause analysis paid off handsomely. I asked this young man to consider donating blood regularly. I also took him off of the testosterone injections and started him on clomiphene citrate pills to push his “lazy” pituitary harder to make more of his own testosterone levels. In this way, we maintained his normal (high) quality of life that he enjoyed while on testosterone without using testosterone; he now also enjoys good sexual health and is fertile, and we added a few more years to his life.  We have done what Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, ordered us to do: “Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future.” And that, my friends, is the hat trick of great medicine!

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How Soon Should Couples Seek Fertility Treatment?

Snoopy is pretty smart
Charlie Brown had it down. And Snoopy did too. (Courtesy: Unsplash.com)

You’ve been trying to conceive but sparks just aren’t flying. You stopped using birth control pills (or pulled the IUD) and started having unprotected sex. With the help of an app, you figured out your most fertile time of the month and began timing sex to increase the odds. You switched to vegetable oils for lubricants and tried all sorts of positions, from missionary to doggie to cowgirl to kneeling lotus to quarter moon, full moon and even no moon, but still no luck. Maybe it’s time to get some help.

When To Seek Help?

Society guidelines define infertility as the inability to conceive after one year of trying. It’s that simple. How, when and where you have sex is all up to you, but if it doesn’t happen after 12 months, then infertility is present. The basis for this definition becomes apparent when you look at the trigonometry of trying: 30% get pregnant within the first month of trying, 60% get pregnant by 3 months, and 80% are pregnant by 6 months. After that another 5% of couples will conceive by 12 months and 15% will not have conceived.

So, the classic recommendation is to try for one year before seeking help. But, as a fertility specialist who sees infertile couples for a living, I would suggest that couples seek help whenever they get concerned about it. I say this because concern snowballs into stress and anxiety, and all of this can negatively impact the relationship, quality of life and fertility potential. Realizing that women’s fertility is known to decrease with age, I also recommend that couples seek help after 6 months if the female partner is older than 35 years. And, if either partner has a known medical history that might impact fertility, say like cancer treatment or surgery on their reproductive parts, then they should also consider seeking help even sooner than 6 months.

Who Goes First?

Society guidelines are clear on the issue of who gets evaluated once care is sought: Both partners. And at the same time.  However, what usually happens is that women make the first call to their gynecologists and the process begins. That evaluation should include a detailed medical and menstrual history, a physical examination and further blood and imaging studies as indicated. The male partner evaluation should also include a history, a proper physical examination, two semen analyses and blood and imaging studies as indicated. Importantly, since gynecologists do not typically take care of men, the male evaluation should be performed by a urologist with an interest or expertise in male infertility. In my practice, a thorough male infertility evaluation is completed in a single office visit, and one that I promise will not hurt.

Remember, although making babies is the most fun you might ever have without laughing (Woody Allen), behind the scenes there is a virtual symphony of precisely orchestrated biological events that must occur for its success.  The beauty and complexity of human conception is staggering if you really think about it. And getting professional help to tweak the process can mean all the difference in the world. Charlie Brown hit the nail on the head when he said: “Asking for help isn’t weak, it’s a great example of how to take care of yourself.”

Call us today at 1-888-887-3563 or visit our Los Angeles or San Francisco clinics to schedule an appointment.

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Does Producing More Semen Make You More Potent?

Sperm production treatment, Beverly Hills, CA
How to read spilled milk (Courtesy: Unsplash.com)

When it comes to health, love and possibly money, more may be better. But what’s the scoop when it comes to the amount of semen produced with ejaculation? Does more mean more potency or better fertility?

Funny thing is, this issue really runs deep with men. In several religions, semen is precious and can’t be spilled or wasted. Throughout human history, this liquid has some serious gravitas; in fact its importance is…wait for it…seminal.

A Poker Hand

As a male fertility specialist, I have reviewed literally hundreds of thousands of semen samples from tens of thousands of men. From this experience, I have concluded that a semen sample is like a hand of cards. Each measurement, such as semen volume, sperm concentration, motility and shape, is like a poker card with its own value or meaning. But together they also have a larger meaning or “look” that can have clinical significance. For example, if the semen volume and the sperm concentration are both low, then this could reflect something called retrograde ejaculation, in which semen preferentially goes backwards into the bladder instead of forward through the penis into the real world. In essence, the big picture matters most, and as with many things in life, the “look” and not the amount matters more for semen.

Larger Loads

Although one may think that unleashing a bigger load of semen makes you more of a man, outside of pornography, the facts do not bear this out. There is no real correlation of semen volume or force of ejaculation with testosterone levels, virility, erectile capability, sexual competence or fertility. Semen volume has less to do with manhood than simply the size of the seminal vesicles that produce it, as these paired internal organs behind the prostate are the main contributors to semen volume. And since, sperm enters the semen from separate channels leading out of the testicle, their numbers are relatively independent of semen volume. Therefore, high volume ejaculates may in fact have lower sperm concentrations due to dilution issues. However, fertility is typically unaffected either way, so no worries here.

Smaller Spurts

The story is quite different when semen volumes are low (< 2 mL). When this occurs, my interest perks up considerably as there are only a few good reasons for having a low ejaculate volume.

The most common among them is incomplete collection. Sometimes men simply miss the cup and hit the wall instead. This is especially common on the first attempt at procuring a semen sample as men must think about what they’re doing (and collect the sample) while ejaculating. I refer to this as “first sample syndrome” and it typically goes away with more experience and repeat samples.

If the seminal vesicles are missing or blocked, due to genetic or acquired disorders, ejaculate volumes are typically low, and fertility is impaired.

With low testosterone levels, semen volumes can also be reduced as sex gland secretions are Vitamin T-dependent in general.

Medications such as alpha blockers for prostatic enlargement or finasteride for hair loss can also impact semen volume by reducing production in the seminal vesicles.

Finally, medical conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis and procedures involving the back and lower abdominal can redirect ejaculate toward the bladder instead of the outside world, causing reduced semen volume.

So, semen volume is more reflective of a man’s biology than his manhood. This means if you want to increase it, spend time thinking about how to stay healthy: eat well, sleep well, maintain a lean body weight, and eat a balanced diet. Exercise regularly and reduce your stress. These are the forces that matter most for sex and semen.

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Will the Office of Men’s Health Finally Arrive?

The hallowed halls of congress and the healing of men (Courtesy: Unsplash.com)

“You should go and see a doctor.” Who ignores this advice more often: men or women? To help you answer this, look at these U.S. medical facts:

  • Men lead in 9 of the top 10 causes of death.
  • 80% of suicide deaths are men.
  • There is a 5-year difference in life expectancy between men (76.2 yrs) and women (81.2 yrs).
  • The average black male in America barely lives long enough to collect social security.
  • Cancer death rates are 40% higher for men than women.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to seek preventative medical care.
  • The cost to government and society at large for early death and illness in men exceeds $300 billion annually.

It’s pretty obvious that the answer is “men.” The issue at heart is why such an egregious gender health care disparity exists in American medicine today. It starts with “typical” male behavior fed by testosterone and an immortality complex, leading to symptom avoidance and risk-taking behavior that is largely unregulated due to lack of mentors, communication, and poor access to care. Whatever the root causes, the consequence is that men are medically underserved.

A Captain Needed

The solution to this medical epidemic is clearly complex and involves many stakeholders, including family, friends, employers, peers, religious and sports organizations, and local, state, and federal governments working together. How best to pool and organize all these resources to improve men’s health? A federal Office of Men’s Health would be a great start! An Office of Women’s Health was established at the federal level in 1991. With the goal of improving awareness of, access to, and delivery of better health care to women, it succeeded in spades. Witness the fact that 90% of women with breast cancer are now cured of their disease.

The time has come for men to catch up! Bill H.R. 5986 entitled “Men’s Health Awareness and Improvement Act” was introduced into the 117th Congress this past month by Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ). Hallelujah! It proposes to use the resources of the Department of Health and Human Services to promote, educate and coordinate men’s health activities at all levels in both the public and private sectors, just like the Office of Women’s Health has so successfully done over the past 30 years. It’s the ship captain that we so desperately need to bring men’s health into the 21st century.

A Sailing Ship

What excites me the most about this initiative is it’s potential to improve the health of males at all ages, from boys to men. Remember that after leaving the care of pediatricians as teenagers, men are essentially provider-less, whereas women have gynecologists who care for them throughout adulthood. This Congressional act has the potential to commit to and codify the medical care offered to American men throughout their lives by organizing all resources at hand around this great country, and thereby raising the tide of better medical care and floating all boats along with it. In so doing, we can teach men to invest in themselves, improve their lives and enhance the lives of those around them. In the words of Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Please join me in supporting this long-overdue act of compassionate medical care and write your congressperson!

 

 

 

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Things That You Didn’t Know About Your Penis

Mona Lisa
Da Vinci knew a lot more about us than how to paint a great smile (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Honestly the human penis, that ultimate love muscle, is an architectural and biological marvel. At rest, it serves as a conduit for urine. When rubbed like a genie’s lamp, it takes on a whole other, Jekyll and Hyde-like character. And did you know that pound-for-pound the human penis is the largest in proportion to body size among all mammals? But it’s also unique in other ways. Yep, this little appendage is a full of surprises.

A Boneless Organ

Here is another Snapple-cap fact: pretty much every mammal besides humans has a bone in their penis. The baculum or os penis bone evolved in mammals more than 95 million years ago. For some reason, humans lost that bone about 1.9 million years ago, sometime during our homo erectus phase. Theory has it that the bone was no longer needed as human reproduction drifted from polygamy to monogamy. Apparently, bony penises can stay in the female reproductive tract longer, keeping other penises away, and thereby increasing reproductive fitness.

Amazingly enough, even without a bone, one can still “fracture” a human penis. It’s not easy to do, but it happens when serious weight suddenly comes down on a semi-erect penis, bending it until it makes a snapping sound and then turning it all hues of black and blue. So be careful how and where you direct this little sword.

Sleepless Nights

Another little-known fact is that it takes more energy to keep a penis soft or flaccid than it does to keep it erect. Erections occur when blood flow opens like a spigot after being tightly clamped down. Notably, the blood pressure within the erect penis can be twice as high as your blood pressure; this is necessary to attain the required stiffness essential for a firm erection and proper use.

Along these lines, did you know that your penis “sighs” and relaxes about 3 times every night for 1 hour each while you are asleep? During these sighs, which occur during deep REM sleep, there is a full-blown erection. Since you’re in your deepest, dreamiest state, you might never know that it happened. Your partner might though.

Loading the Gun

The act of ejaculation is actually a reflex that, like a sneeze, has a point of no return. Fundamentally, it consists of two distinct events. The first, termed “emission,” occurs during foreplay and arousal. During this time, the body is busy pumping a glob of sperm from the scrotum up to the prostate through the vas deferens, effectively loading a bullet in the gun’s chamber. It may be felt as a pulsating sensation down there. Then comes the “ejaculation phase,” which is what we know as ejaculation. What happens here is a series of well-orchestrated events: the seminal vesicles contract, the bladder neck closes, and the urinary sphincter opens, all to allow the semen to traverse the penis and enter the free world. This clockwork-like activity is aided by contractions of the pelvic musculature every 0.9 secs to help force fluid from the penis. A magical moment in more ways than one.

Flipping the Switch

To get a good erection, the body must be relaxed. That’s why stress kills erections. Remember, our nervous systems are pretty primitive: Who wants an erection when being chased (stressed) by a woolly mammoth? But, once an erection is achieved and climax is imminent, the dormant “fight or flight” nervous system kicks in again and is responsible for ejaculation. Afterwards, the erection falls and cannot be regained for some time. This is termed the “refractory” period and it is during this post-coital moment when the nervous system switches back to “rest and restore” mode to allow for yet another erection. The marvelous interplay of both halves of our nervous system is present in every moment of the climacteric.

You know who knew a whole lot of these little penis secrets? Leonardo da Vinci, who said: “The penis does not obey the order of its master, who tries to erect or shrink it at will, whereas instead the penis erects freely while its master is asleep. The penis must be said to have its own mind, by any stretch of the imagination.”

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Should You Buy ED drugs Online?

When is a pill just a pill like other pills? (Courtesy Unsplash.com)

It’s simply incredible to see how the way we buy things has changed over the last two decades. In just 20 years, online shopping has gone from being non-existent to becoming a trillion-dollar industry. What with 360-degree product views, videos, consumer ratings, detailed sizing instructions, free shipping, front door delivery and EZ returns, shopping online has become more like shopping in person than ever. And the facts about online shopping are also staggering: In 2021, more than 2.1 billion people are expected to shop online, with e-commerce sales expected to reach $4.9 trillion. As a car guy, I never imagined that anyone would purchase a 6-figure car online without a test drive or kicking the tires, but it happens all the time now. Amidst this e-commerce revolution, one key question is whether it is a good idea to buy prescription drugs online. And more specifically, how about buying “embarrassment drugs” for erectile dysfunction?

Cybermedicine Legality

Just because you can buy a drug online and from the comfort of your home does not mean that it is legal or safe. Remember, prescription drugs in the US must be “prescribed” by a licensed medical provider, and that includes a doctor’s visit with a consultation and examination. Lawsuits to date and statements made by prominent medical societies make it clear that the “physician-patient” relationship still matters for prescribing drugs. Foregoing this time-honored process could prove dangerous for consumers.

Cybermedicine Safety

The online drug commerce market has grown very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that state and federal drug agencies are overwhelmed and understaffed when trying to enforce interstate commerce laws among pharmacies and physicians. Part of “prescribing” a drug is a responsibility to educate the consumer about risks as well as benefits of a medicine. This has huge implications for patient health and safety.

You should never take a prescription drug without a consultation with and prescription from a physician. Moreover, there are some important questions you should ask yourself before taking a prescription drug:

  • What’s actually in the drug? Many drugs sold online do not meet the quality standards of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals. FDA-approved, pharma-grade prescription drugs may cost more but they are quality-guaranteed. Not always true with online medications.
  • Is the drug legal? The lack of enforcement means that access to illegal or unapproved drugs is widespread. And with this comes the issue of fake health claims.
  • Is the drug right for me? The loss of the patient-provider relationship could result in missed warning signs regarding prescription medicines and lead to untoward health consequences.
  • What if I have a drug reaction? If things go wrong with the medication, who are you supposed to contact for problems?

Buying “Embarrassment Drugs”

When it comes to buying “lifestyle drugs” like erection pills, the benefits of going online are clear: cost, confidentiality, convenience, speed, and access to oodles of information not readily available in brick-and-mortar pharmacies. But a study by the grandfather of Viagra®, Dr Irwin Goldstein, found that 77% of pills purchased from 22 different websites were counterfeit and contained only between 30-50% of the active ingredient advertised on their labels. In light of this, here is my advice regarding buying ED drugs online:

  • Be cautious when visiting online drug sites. Understand that the legality and product quality of many online drug stores is questionable. Try to buy from reputable pharmacies.
  • Realize that consultation (and preferably a visit) with a doctor is technically required for buying prescription drugs. Seek a similar interaction when buying drugs online and talk to a professional before buying.
  • Prescription drugs are not sold “over the counter” for good reason: they have known side effects which could have health consequences. Get educated from a provider or pharmacist regarding these issues as it’s your health at stake!

As we wander deeper into cybermedicine, we should heed the words of George Herbert: “The buyer needs a hundred eyes, the seller not one.”

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Recommendation from Males Who Have Overcome a Male Infertility Analysis

Going locations you’ve by no means been earlier than (Courtesy: Unsplash.com)

Males as a species are fairly good at adapting to the brand new or totally different, to judging and taking dangers and to responding to the unknown. I didn’t say good, however fairly good. Certainly, this capacity has allowed them to surf waves the scale of mountains, run the mile in nicely beneath 4 minutes, run firms, increase households, earn a living, and simply merely survive in an ever-changing world. However, inform a person that he’s infertile, and he could resemble a deer in headlights. Being infertile strikes at a person’s very core and is an unknowably devastating blow to id, ego and superego.

A Freudian View

I’ve typically questioned why an infertility prognosis is so disabling for males. I’ve revealed that being infertile impacts males’s intercourse lives, shallowness and social interactions. And now I look to Freud for a deeper rationalization of this response. The Freudian view of people is that of id, ego and superego. Id represents the fully unconscious man, and consists of the instinctive, childish and primitive behaviors which can be pushed by satisfying “pleasures” resembling consuming, sleeping and reproducing. Ego is derived from each the aware and unconscious thoughts, and it ensures that the id is expressed in a socially acceptable method. Freud in contrast the id to a horse and the ego to the horse’s rider. The horse gives the ability and movement, and the rider governs and directs. Overseeing all of this, the superego bears the ethical requirements and beliefs discovered from dad and mom and society. It gives the correct and unsuitable tips for making judgments and tries to good and civilize conduct.

A Freudian Fault

With regards to replica, the id sees it as an instinctive want, as primary as starvation. It’s important and elementary to life. Neither the ego nor the superego questions this precedence, as it’s so primary in nature. As an unchallenged cornerstone of being human, replica fails to seize the eye of the ego and tremendous ego…till there’s a drawback. And when infertility surfaces, there isn’t a actual basis for a coherent response. Therefore, emotional chaos outcomes. Within the phrases of Freud, “Males are robust as long as they symbolize a powerful concept.”

A Freudian Response

During the last quarter century, I’ve seen each response possible when males are knowledgeable that they’re infertile. Infertility impacts shallowness and self-identity like few different mortal challenges. You had been placed on this good earth to breed, and but you’ll be able to’t? This goes deep. And, since emotions about fertility and sexual adequacy are sometimes intertwined, infertility can lead males to query their masculinity and sexual prowess. The id, ego and superego are fully unprepared for this.

I’ve additionally seen the large interior power that males reveal when confronted with infertility. This tends to happen with the next realizations:

  • That some issues are out of your management
  • That some issues are literally in your management
  • That data and information are energy and may help you navigate the unknown
  • That total well being issues
  • That emotional help issues

Freud truly nailed it when he stated: “Being fully trustworthy with oneself is an efficient train.” So true on the subject of coping with the sudden in life. And, reflecting on the non-public development that’s potential in adversity, he additionally stated: “At some point, looking back, the years of battle will strike you as essentially the most stunning.”

 

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Why are you losing hair? Frequent causes of hair loss

Why are you losing hair? Common causes of hair loss

Losing hair to a certain extent is normal, most of the people usually shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. This type of hair loss generally does not cause thinning of hair because as one hair sheds, at the same time new hair is growing on your scalp. But sudden losing hair is something that you should take seriously, because it may be a sign that the cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted, or that the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.

There are various factors that can cause losing hair. Sometimes the type of balding can be an indicator for the reason of hair loss, but there are many possibilities that should be taken in consideration before you get a concrete diagnosis.

Alopecia ( losing hair )

The most common cause is alopecia – a chronic inflammatory dermatological disorder that leads to losing hair by affecting the growth phase of hair follicles. In this case men are losing hair primarily on the scalp, but sometimes the problem may occur on the body as well. The extent of hair loss differs depending on the form of alopecia that you have.

The most common form is male pattern alopecia, medically called Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), which is a genetically predisposed condition mediated by an increased sensitivity to testosterone in the follicle. It usually starts manifesting with a receding hairline, and continues with hair loss at the top of the head. If the condition progresses, it causes the balding areas to merge, leaving only a ring of hair around the scalp.

Severe alopecia

There are also more severe types of alopecia that cause different consequences. Alopecia Areata causes losing hair in patches from the head, which may vary from 1 centimeter in diameter, to relatively large areas. Alopecia Totalis causes losing hair on the entire head, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Alopecia Universalis causes losing all hair on both the head and body.

It is believed that severe types of alopecia occur as an autoimmune disorder which arises from a combination of genetic and environmental influences and causes immune cells to attack hair follicles in the growth phase.

Basically, the body’s immune system attacks its own hair. It usually happens suddenly and the disease course is unpredictable. There may be spontaneous remission, but repeated episodes can also arise.

If you are losing hair, talk to a licensed professional who can determine the cause and treatment options.

Other medical conditions

Sometimes sudden loss of hair can be caused by an underlying medical condition.

There are estimated 30 diseases that can cause hair loss, such as anemia, diabetes, and lupus. You need to talk to a doctor who can find ways to treat the disease and reverse the process of losing hair.

Chemotherapy, as part of cancer treatment, may also cause substantial hair loss. It is usually one of the most traumatic side effects.

However, as soon as the therapy is stopped, the hair tends to grow back, but it may not be of the same color or texture as before. Radiation therapy and major surgery can also cause temporary hair loss.

Additionally, a poor diet without enough protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, as well as weight loss, can result in losing hair.

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have also caused hair loss troubles.

In some cases, continuous or major psychological stress, such as from divorce or death of a loved one, can result in temporary hair loss.

How to stop losing hair?

The first important step is to consult a professional. A lot of men don’t realize that genetic hair loss is treatable and baldness is not an inevitable outcome. But the truth is that with the right professional advice and clinically-proven options suitable for their specific situation, it is possible to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth.

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Are you able to cease hair loss with way of life modifications?

Can you stop hair loss with lifestyle modifications?

Some essential vitamins and minerals play a big role in hair health, such as iron, zinc, vitamin D, biotin, niacin, selenium, fatty acids, and amino acids. Therefore, nutrient deficiencies may cause troubles with hair loss, but this also means that you can easily solve the problem with some lifestyle modifications.

However, don’t try to treat your hair loss with supplements without consulting a medical provider, because over-supplementing can also cause some troubles. For example, too much vitamin E and A can cause toxicity and aggravate your hair problems. That’s why you need expert evaluation to see if you have some nutrient deficiency, and then get appropriate treatment with changes in your diet and supplements.

Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss through some study indications. If you suffer from severe deficiency you’ll need to be evaluated by a doctor for iron replacement. Vegan may also need dietary counseling and guidance for optimizing iron intake and absorption. If you want to try solving the problem with food, include more whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, legumes, animal proteins, seafood, and seeds in your diet.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency is not very common, but in severe cases it can cause losing hair. It may occur due to reasons such as genetic disorders, certain medications, and malabsorption issues. The good news is that in most cases where hair loss was caused by zinc deficiency, it was able to reverse when treated properly. Zinc can be best absorbed by animal products such as poultry, red meat, shellfish, and dairy products, so if you follow a vegan or vegetarian meal plan you’ll need to have zinc levels assessed. However, do not supplement with zinc without directions from a medical professional, since over-supplementing can cause a copper deficiency.

Selenium deficiency ( Hair Loss )

Selenium deficiency is very rare, since most diets are adequate in this nutrient. On the other hand, selenium toxicity is possible, therefore it is recommended to treat deficiencies with foods rather than supplements.

Generally, eating one Brazil nut a day can provide all your selenium needs. Other selenium-rich food includes meat, poultry, fish, dairy, grains, and legumes.

Amino acids deficiency ( hair loss )

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is an essential component that mediates in hair growth and strength. Hair follicles are mostly made of protein, so protein deficiencies are directly linked to hair loss. The average adult needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

One kilogram equals 2.2 pounds, so if you weigh 170 pounds you’ll need about 62 grams of protein a day. Luckily, there are lots of foods that are rich in protein, such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, seeds, legumes, nuts, nut butters, chicken, fish, and turkey.

Fatty acids deficiency ( Hair Loss )

Our bodies can’t produce essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), so they must be included in your diet if you want to avoid deficiencies that can cause hair loss on the scalp and eyebrows.

This means eating more pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, and fatty fish.

Vitamin D deficiency

Some studies show that people with alopecia areata can have low levels of vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin as it’s largely obtained from sunlight.

So, during times when you don’t get enough sun exposure (like in the winter months), make sure to eat vitamin D rich foods such as egg yolks, fortified cereals, fortified milk and milk alternatives, orange juice, salmon, trout, tuna, and fish liver oils. People often use vitamin D supplements, but it’s best to talk to a doctor to determine if you have a deficiency before turning to supplements.

Biotin deficiency ( hair loss )

Lack of biotin causes hair loss, brittle nails, and dry skin, and is associated with enzyme deficiency, alcoholism, consuming too many raw egg whites, and excessive antibiotic use. Foods rich in biotin include spinach, oats, egg yolks, and wheat germ, but in case of deficiency you might want to try some proven hair loss treatments which are based on biotin.

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