Aging is inevitable. But the discomfort and slowing down that men often experience as they age don’t have to be. Maybe you’re concerned about that extra roll of belly fat that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how often you work out, or you keep poking at that weird growth on the back of your hand. But whether you’re avoiding looking in the mirror because of those gray hairs or you’re trying to forget an embarrassing sexual moment with your loved one, you’re likely to notice signs of aging popping up from time to time.
You don’t have to settle for the symptoms of age. In many cases, there are steps you can take to slow down the process. Here are some of the common ways aging manifests in men and what you can do about them.
Pushing Back Against Sexual Health Symptoms
Let’s start with the symptoms that might strike closest to where you live. When you start to experience issues regarding sexual performance and well-being, it’s all too easy to shrug them off as a sign of aging. Maybe an instance of erectile dysfunction was your wake-up call, or possibly you’re just not as interested in sex as you used to be.
And it’s true: As you age, your body starts to produce less testosterone. Most men experience a decrease in testosterone production of about 1% per year, beginning in their 30s. But you don’t have to take it as a given that your sex life is going to decline as you grow older. Sexual performance and libido issues very often have a medical cause, so this is a reason to head to your men’s health clinic. Your doctor can test your testosterone and other hormone levels to figure out a legitimate medical treatment that will help. (Why a men’s health clinic, you ask? Because we know how to discuss these issues with clarity and expertise, and we’re up to date on the most recent developments in men’s health care.)
In addition, have a serious talk with your partner about what’s going on, and make sure to keep them updated on everything you learn at the men’s health clinic.
Pushing Back Against a Decline of Physical Strength
It’s getting harder to lift the same weights you’ve always racked up at the gym. You find yourself getting tired faster on your runs. And when you look in the mirror, your muscles just don’t seem as ripped as they used to. Is this an inevitable sign of aging?
Let’s circle back to your testosterone levels again. Testosterone is key to building muscle mass, and as your levels drop, your body’s ability to maintain strong muscle mass also declines slowly. If you’re diagnosed with testosterone deficiency (a level that begins below 300 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter of blood), there’s absolutely something you can do about it. Testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to have a significant effect on muscle mass.
And don’t stop going to the gym. Five days a week of weight-bearing exercise (that includes walking and running, but not swimming) can also make a difference.
Pushing Back Against Cognitive Decline
It seems as if joking about “senior moments” starts in your 40s these days. Yes, life is moving at a faster-than-ever pace, and there’s a lot to remember — so if you can’t recall someone’s name or what time that meeting is, it’s not surprising. But aging does bring with it some cognitive issues, including memory lapses. There are a lot of potential causes behind the inability to concentrate or remember (including low testosterone levels for some men) — but you can find ways to push back.
Staying social is good for your brain, so make sure you’re not spending all your free time scrolling on your phone. Mental challenges are also brain-healthy activities, whether you prefer crossword puzzles, challenging home improvement tasks, learning a new language or reading. You can also protect your brain health by doing some of the same things you’d do to maintain a healthy body, including exercising, eating healthy and quitting any unhealthy addictions (especially tobacco).
And yes, see your doctor if you’re worried about issues such as dementia. Getting your testosterone levels tested may also prove helpful here.
Pushing Back Against Weight Gain and Belly Fat
As you get older, your metabolism is likely to slow down a bit. As a result, you can end up gaining weight even if you’re eating the exact same diet and getting the same amount of exercise you were handling just a few years ago. That extra weight is likely to cling to your midriff, so you don’t look as sleek as you used to and may find yourself eyeing shirts that don’t have to be tucked in.
Exercise and a healthy diet are your best bet to push back against weight gain. (And yes, get your testosterone levels checked because that belly fat can be a sign of testosterone deficiency — you knew we were going to say that, didn’t you?) Often, you can also lose weight just by choosing slightly smaller portions of the foods you’re already eating.
Pushing Back Against Changes to Your Skin
It doesn’t matter how distinguished wrinkles may look — they’re a definite sign of aging. Many men also experience a thinning of the skin as they age, resulting in more frequent bruising, and you may notice brown spots popping up randomly on your face, hands and arms. It’s easy to shrug these off, but you should definitely see a dermatologist if you notice moles or other dark spots growing, as these can be signs of skin cancer.
You can protect your skin as well by wearing sunscreen whenever you go outside. Choose a mild soap for washing, and keep your skin moisturized. In addition, avoiding hot water can help your skin stay healthy.
Aging is just a number when you have the right tools
Pushing Back Against Loss of Bone Density
You’re almost certainly not aware that you’re losing bone density as you get older. And be glad that you’re not aware because the way most people learn about it is through a broken bone. However, loss of bone density is an expected side effect of aging. You could end up with osteoporosis (no, it’s not only for women), or you might feel a bit stiff.
You probably already know what you can do to protect your bones: take calcium. Yes, you can get calcium from dairy products (also from green veggies), but take a calcium supplement just to be sure you’re getting the 1,000 milligrams you should have each day. Vitamin D is also a great supplement to add to your routine for bone health. And you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that low testosterone levels can affect your bone health, so make that appointment for testing.
Pushing Back Against Heart Issues
As you age, your blood vessels get a little stiff. If the condition gets serious, you might be diagnosed with some version of stenosis. Even in the early stages, this means your heart has to pump a bit harder to keep blood circulating throughout your system. You might not notice this extra effort on the part of your heart, but it’ll show up in higher blood pressure numbers.
Living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way to helping you push back against the effects of aging on your heart. Keep exercising (aerobic exercise is particularly useful here). Eat that healthy diet, taking in plenty of fiber through vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Avoid foods with saturated fat as much as possible, and decrease your use of salt. Managing stress well, whether through meditation, yoga or therapy, can help your heart, as can practicing good sleep hygiene. And of course, stop smoking if you do. If you consistently show high blood pressure, a doctor will want to talk to you about medication.
Pushing Back Against Constipation and Urinary Issues
Your issues with constipation or urinary problems could be just a normal result of aging — or they could be symptoms of medical conditions that should be checked by a doctor (think prostate problems or diabetes). Yes, it’s normal as you age to have to pee more frequently — but if your efforts to maintain a healthy bladder and gut don’t seem to help, you should make a doctor’s appointment.
Meanwhile, keep eating that high-fiber diet (and avoid dairy and fatty meat if you’re dealing with constipation). Stay active to keep your system moving. Opt for water instead of caffeinated or carbonated beverages to keep things flowing, and head to the bathroom when you need to go (in other words, don’t try to hold it in).
When to See a Doctor About the Signs of Aging
Certain signs of aging can point to a serious medical condition, as detailed above, and you should always see an appropriate physician when you feel suspicious about what’s going on in your body. But you don’t have to accept many of the signs of aging as a given. At Texas Men’s Health Group, we offer multiple treatments to push back against aging, including testosterone replacement therapy and human growth hormone (HGH) peptide treatments.
When you give your body what it needs, you can keep age at bay so that it’s just a number, not an indication of how you look or feel. If you’re ready to learn how to turn back the clock, make an appointment to see one of our men’s health specialists today.