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The disappearing penis

Down under ... many men are unable to see their genitals.

Down under ... many men are unable to see their genitals. Photo: AFR

A recent survey of 1,000 British men has shown that a third of men aged between 35 and 60 years, are unable to see their genitals due to a protruding midriff or, less politely, a beer belly.

As a result of the survey, funded by the medical group We Love Our Health, an online men's health awareness initiative has been launched. The Big Check aims to encourage men to make a potentially lifesaving health check.

"Take off your clothes, stand upright and look down at your penis, if you can't see it, you are obese," says the group's online doctor, Johan du Plessis.

"Don't ignore it, it can knock years off your lifespan but it can also put you in serious
risk from life threatening illness."

Campaign member Dr Sarah Brewer urges men to adopt a healthier life style: "Most men care more about maintaining their cars than their own bodies and often only see the doctor if told by a partner or relative."

Being overweight means that men are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and other health problems.

But, what the research does not spell out is that obesity has been linked to erectile
problems and difficulties with sexual performance. From a psychological point of view overweight men often feel uncomfortable with their body and have a lower selfesteem.

They may suffer from anxiety, depression or emotional distress and therefore
acquire performance anxiety. Unfortunately, it's not something they want to talk
about, either to their GPs or a counsellor.

The social and psychological obstacles these men face are not the only factors causing sexual problems. There is also a direct biological origin. To have an erection is the result of increased blood flow in the penis and to maintain penile erection depends on a healthy circulatory system.

There has not been a similar survey in Australia yet, but you only need to look around
to realise how many men are overweight and have a beer belly.

They don't seem to care either.

They shrug their shoulders and like to joke: "My partner likes my love handles,"
"I have the body of a God – and my God is Buddha." Or the best one: "I have a veranda over my toy shop."

However, overweight men should view the prospect of impotence as a compelling motivation to lead a different lifestyle; one that involves regular exercise and a healthy diet. It is for their own sakes and that of their partners.

Erectile dysfunction does not just affect overweight men. The world's largest study to examine links between erectile dysfunction and heart disease found even minor erection difficulties in healthy fit men, can be an indicator of future heart risks.The authors of the study, undertaken in Australia and published last month in the on-line journal PLOS Medicine, examined data of 95,038 men aged 45 years and older.

The researchers concluded that erectile dysfunction does not cause heart disease but may be an early indicator of the problems that lead to it, such as a build-up of plaque in the arteries.

Dr Rob Grenfell, from the Australian Heart Foundation, said: "These results tell us that every man who is suffering from any degree of erectile dysfunction should be seeking medical assistance as early as possible, and also insisting on a heart check by their GP at the same time".

I would certainly agree with that.

88 comments

  • I'm 34 this year, married 4 years and have 2 kids. Have recently begun to take a good look at my lifestyle and have reduced the amount of food I consume. It's all about portion control! And lots of fruits and water!

    Also begun exercising in the backyard using my body weight as the resistance. Just 10 minutes a day of high intensity exercise does wonders to your self-esteem!

    I don't smoke and am about average weight and height (87kg and 1.79cm tall) but I definitely don't want to be 50 years old and am unable to see my friend downstairs due to decades of neglect!

    Anyway, it is possible to still eat and drink like a God and look (somewhat) like a God too haha..

    Commenter
    The Marching Jester
    Location
    The Age Mailroom
    Date and time
    February 19, 2013, 7:18AM
    • Power to you, friend. You owe it to your family - especially the kids - to stay sustainably healthy. There are books - Matt Furey's "Combat Conditioning" for good bodyweight exercises. It is excellent value.

      Commenter
      Spike
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 10:03AM
    • Well done - get a copy of the Official United States Navy Seal Workout - it is cheap, widely available and packed with body weight exercises. Start off with the basic lead up training and you will be ripped like a cheetah in no time at all.
      You nail it with short sharp sessions! I started in backyard well out of public view and now train at the outdoor gyms dotted around Sydney.
      Struggle with chin up/heaves get a powerband, see google!

      Commenter
      Sydguy
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 10:44AM
    • well done. But if I may expand upon this... there's only ONE way to lose weight - burn more calories than you consume. Sounds like you've lucked upon a method, but this principle underlines it.
      A:
      work out what your basal metabolic rate is (BMR). this is the amount of energy you consume without doing anything. there's tons of online calculators, and you'll probably find it's around 1600 calories a day. if you're inactive (ie work in an office), you probably only use another 600 calories per day on top of this. There are calculators which help you work this out too, Be honest with yourself about your actual level of activity.
      B:
      weigh your food, work out the calories you're taking in. especially oil and butter. Keep your caloric intake in line with your BMR. unless you do this, you WILL NOT lose weight. 'cheat' once a week if you must. Cut out booze sessions, cook your own food, avoid take away and processed crap, and if you must eat out, eat lean. you'll save $$$ too. Keep a strict food diary.
      C:
      increase your metabolism by doing weights AND cardio, minimum 3 times a week. the trick here is to have a protein shake (or a big M) within 20 minutes of the workout's end. Do this you won't feel tired. this is where most people go wrong. Keep a strict exercise diary.
      D:
      drink water continually. Do this and you will always feel more full, and wont have fluid retention problems.
      Follow this through for 3 months and you'll lose tons of weight. Don't let your anyone interfere with your decision to get fit. Only your true friends will support you.
      E:
      eat and exercise this way for the rest of your life

      Commenter
      JF
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 11:14AM
    • I highly recommend Mark Lauren's "You Are Your Own Gym." Great resource for people on the go! No special equipment needed. There are books and apps available.

      Commenter
      Emme
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 11:40AM
    • Check with your GP first, but you could get him/her to do a checkup with a 'come to Jesus' message. This spells out what will happen if he adopts a healthier lifestyle, or what will happen if he doesn't. Positive reinforcement works better. Won't work on deep-seated eating problems, but for your run-of-the-mill fatness, a few home truths and the reassociation of the word 'gluttony' with 'obesity' can be helpful, if you've tried the positive approach and it's making no differences. Put it this way, you're learning from the heart-attack you don't need to have. Alas, most people have to wait for that heart attack or Type 2 diabetes before they'll change, and even then most don't. Type 2 Diabetes often has 3 symptoms: loss of blood glucose control, glucose in the urine, and lying about diet!

      Commenter
      FJ
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 11:43AM
    • Second that, 'you are your own gym' is excellent, the app is sensational. I use it when traveling. Work out in your hotel room...

      Commenter
      JF
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 12:04PM
    • I am 55, I have reduced my weight from 92kg down to 80 kgs through exercise and reduction in food intake, especially at dinner time.
      I do 25 minutes of stretching each morning just to loosen up for the day and in the evenings I will either do 1hr of brisk walking or an hour of resistance training using no more than 2 x 5kg dumb bells. I have developed a range of execises that work on my arms, legs, upper body, sholders and back by using different movements while holding onto a 5kg weight in each hand. Doesn't build bulk but definately tones. Also a range of sit-ups and crunches keep the stomach tight.
      Some nights I won't have dinner as I think dinner is the worst meal for putting on weight. We eat a big meal then go to bed so doesn't get burned off. If I do have dinner it is much smaller than I use to eat. If you get intergestion while trying to sleep at night you are eating too much before bed.

      Commenter
      tommy
      Location
      perth
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 12:16PM
    • I'm in almost the same boat as @The Marching Jester but I too like my computer games and junk food. I used to think that because I already married the girl of my dreams that I can now 'stop trying' and besides, you're supposed to gain weight after you get married...right?
      I don't know if this will work for your man but what made it 'sink in' for me that exercise was necessary was this: Oxygen particles in the bloodstream act as teflon for cancer cells. Want to give your body the best fighting chance against cancer? Oxygenate the blood by doing short, sharp bursts of intense activity - like crossfit. We've all seen the powerful and destructive nature of cancer (even if it's only on a cigarette packet). Now if only there's a silver bullet for eating better..."you'll look better" doesn't cut it for me personally ;-).

      Commenter
      Aequitas
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 19, 2013, 1:15PM
  • My husband is a mid forties male with a large hard stomach. Can any males out there tell me how I can get him to see this as a real problem? I try to talk to him about it, but the conversation always gets turned around to somehow being my fault. And yes we have had the bedroom function issues.
    He has a gym membership, but won't go. He is a true couch potato, and I think in his mind he sees himself as being 20 and indestructible.
    The biggest worry here is that his mother and younger brother have both had heart attacks in the past few years
    What do I do?

    Commenter
    longtermmarried
    Location
    melbourne
    Date and time
    February 19, 2013, 7:37AM

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