June is Men's Health Awareness Month and there are many resources in Winnipeg at a man's disposal.
The Men's Health Clinic (MHC) has recently opened two months ago and is located on Sterling Lyon Parkway on the west end of the city.
Dr. Premal Patel, the medical director of the MHC and an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, spoke on what services the clinic offers.
"Myself and my partner, Dr. Nayak, are both urologists through the University of Manitoba. My area of specialty is men's health. So, male infertility, enlarged prostates, Peyronies disease, erectile dysfunction and so forth. The mission for the clinic is to raise awareness and provide a place for diagnosis, management, and treatment."
The clinic also offers services in vasectomies, reversals, and cancer screening.
"I think a lot of patients are very happy that something like this finally exists here in Winnipeg. Men, or even their partners, find the clinic and whether it be just to have somewhere to go to do vasectomies or infertility issues or erection issues. They feel like this is a place that they feel comfortable going to."
A common issue that men experience is erectile dysfunction and yet it could be a warning sign of a more serious health concern. Over 50 per cent of men over the age of 50 encounters these circumstances.
"It is largely a blood flow issue, so I always tell men that when they start having issues with erections, it is an early warning sign to be very proactive when it comes to heart health. You know, the blood that supplies the erection is the same blood that supplies the heart," says Patel. "it's like an early warning sign that you need to start taking care of your arteries, and so whether that's exercise, diet, weight loss, smoking cessation, those things are really big that we try to promote."
Low testosterone levels can lead to male infertility. It affects one in six couples, and half of the time it is a male factor.
"As the specialist for male infertility, there are various treatment options that I can do to try to improve sperm counts to let couples conceive naturally."
Getting Men to See a Professional
Unlike women, who find themselves at a doctor's office more often, men do not see a physician regularly.
"They [women] tend to see their primary care physician quite early on, whereas men, there really isn't much of a time point where they see a physician routinely and even when they do, they don't tend to see another physician for a number of years."
Dr. Patel believes that it is because men feel alone in the health issues they face that causes them to distance themselves from visiting clinics.
Some men who visit the MHC are taken aback when the doctors tell them of the high volumes of patients they treat for the same health concerns.
"They're always shocked. They say they thought they were the only ones. So, they don't often talk, whether it's fear, anxiety, or embarrassment. There are a lot of topics that go under-discussed and under-recognized."
It is the main goal of the MHC and other men's clinics to bring awareness that men are not alone in what they experience and to educate men as much as possible on what common health issues they might experience.
"I have a lot of patients who just don't even look online anymore because they say, 'I can't trust what I read' and that's also the trouble, they can't trust what they read. They don't talk to their friends about it, so then they really are in the dark about their health conditions."