Discussing prostate health with a loved one can be difficult. It is an intensely personal issue and some men feel uncomfortable or embarrassed discussing something so closely tied to intimate issues. Prostate problems can impact an man’s ability to void his bladder as well as cause discomfort and affect sexual performance.
All of these are sensitive topics that need to be discussed if your loved one is experiencing any symptoms or has concerns. The proper handling of the discussion can go a long way toward helping him find the proper medical help and helping you understand how he feels and what you can do to help.
The first step in a discussion of prostate health is education. If your loved one is experiencing prostate problems, educating yourself on what the prostate is and its function is essential. Next, having an open and frank discussion is essential, not just with one another but with a trusted healthcare professional. Many men are reluctant, and their partners must help them realize the necessity of seeing a doctor as well as maintaining good prostate health. The following can offer you some ways to facilitate the discussion.
Why is it important to talk about prostate health?
The prostate gland is a small organ weighing about one ounce. The primary functions of the prostate gland are the production of semen, ensuring ejaculation and closing the urethra and bladder during ejaculation to prevent semen from entering these areas. Since tied to sexual performance and health, it is crucial that an open dialogue develops.
When to Start a Discussion About His Prostate
The time to talk about prostate health is before there is a problem. It may help to know many men over fifty years of age suffer from an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In most cases it is easily treatable and any symptoms can be resolved with medical intervention. Suggesting you both get physicals can be a good starting point. In most cases, a physician suggests a routine prostate exam to a man over fifty years of age.
If your loved one falls into certain risk categories for developing prostate problems or prostate cancer, urging him to get an exam is the first, best step in catching any potential problems early. Increased risk occurs in men over fifty years of age, men with male relatives who have had prostate cancer, men of African-American descent, men who live a sedentary lifestyle and men who have a high fat diet. There are also distinct symptoms that can be the starting point for a discussion about prostate health. These include:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Uncomfortable or painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Dribbling or leaking urine
- Difficulty urinating
- Weak urine stream
- Inability to fully empty bladder
- Painful back, thighs, pelvis or rectum
- Painful ejaculation
- Inability to get or maintain an erection
Overcoming Objections to Discussing Prostate Health
Talking about prostate health can be very uncomfortable for men. Your loved one may not like to discuss something as personal as his sexual or urinary health with you. Getting past this barrier requires understanding and patience on your part. Your loved one may have a variety of objections to talking about his prostate health or the possibility of getting a prostate exam. Use these approaches to facilitate the discussion.
The majority of men who have a significant other in their lives say their partner influences their decision to get a prostate exam. Nagging is often not the way to get this done. Consider your partner’s personality. Will he respond to gentle suggestions better than a direct approach? Encouraging your loved one and letting him make the final decision may be more effective.
Show Your Concern
Let your loved one know how important he is to you. Remind him his health is very important to both your happiness and his. If he understands seeing a doctor about his prostate health will put your mind at ease he may be more willing to make the call.
Ask your partner why he is hesitating. Discussing his fears may put them into perspective. Some men do not like the embarrassing nature and discomfort of a prostate exam. Help your partner find a physician who puts him at ease.
Take Advantage of the Internet
There is a lot of information available on the internet about prostate health and the importance of proper screening and treatment. Do some research at reputable sites and send your partner an email with links to a website that addresses any problems he may be having or offers a “Prostate Care” checklist. Authoritative information may sway your loved one.
Take Advantage of Local Healthcare Seminars or Lectures
If your local hospital, urologist’s office or other healthcare providers offers lectures or seminars on topics about men’s health, attend them with your partner. Being informed by an expert can be the first step toward addressing prostate health.
Help Him Find a Doctor
If your partner claims he does not have the time to find a doctor he is comfortable with, do some preliminary research for him. Talk to friends, research local specialists, ask for referrals from trusted doctors and do some research. Put together your findings and give them to your partner to help him find a physician he is comfortable with.
What to Say If He Denies the Need for a Prostate Exam
When you broach the subject of a prostate exam, your loved one may say he sees no reason to get one. If this happens, having a response ready, helps. Here are some common denials and how to answer them:
“Only Old Men Have Prostate Problems”
While there is a statistically higher incidence of prostate problems in men over sixty years of age, men in their 40s and 50s also develop prostate issues easily treated. Early intervention can prevent a minor annoyance from turning into a larger health issue.
“Treating a Prostate Problem Will Ruin Our Sex Life”
First, reassure your partner that treating a prostate problem generally has no negative impact on sexual performance. In many cases, treating an enlarged prostate can relieve discomfort and concerns about urination problems. Addressing these issues may actually enhance his sexuality. Even treating prostate cancer often has no impact on a man’s sex life.
“My Doctor Has Never Given Me A Prostate Exam Before”
This does not mean a man should never have a prostate exam. Some doctors hesitate to suggest one if it has not been part of the routine in the past. If a man is fifty years of age or older, he should ask about a prostate exam.
“I Feel Fine”
Prostate cancer starts and progresses with no symptoms in the early stages. While a digital prostate exam may feel uncomfortable, it only lasts a minute and can catch disease long before there are symptoms. Over 30,000 men die each year from undiagnosed prostate cancer. If caught early, however, prostate cancer is treatable and complete recovery is likely.
Related Article: Preventative Health Care for Men