HARTFORD, Conn. - A Connecticut health center is working to help men take care of themselves - no small task since American men die, on average, about five years earlier than women, according to WTIC.
“We know men take less care of themselves. They utilize health care visits, preventative health care visits and even the Emergency Department less often,” said Dr. Jared Bieniek, a urologist at Hartford Healthcare’s new Tallwood Center for Men’s Health in Farmington.
Along with being less likely to take charge when it comes to their health - both proactively and reactively - men are more likely than women to smoke, do drugs, die in accidents and car crashes, kill themselves, and be killed by others.
“I guess men just try to tough it up, and ignore, wait until the problem really hits them,” said Dr. Waseem Chaudhry, a preventative cardiologist at the center.
Many men do wait to seek help, sometimes until it is too late. However, Bieniek said one area of concern tends to make men more likely to see a doctor - erectile dysfunction.
“Men don’t like to come into the doctor, but they want things to work in the bedroom. That’s where they’re willing to come in,” Bieniek said.
Often, Bieniek is the first specialist to see patients who come to Tallwood. In many cases, he makes referrals to other specialists in the same building because sexual dysfunctions can often highlight underlying medical issues.
“Trouble with erections can also be a heralding sign that there’s issues with blood flow,” Bieniek said.
Erectile dysfunction can actually hint at fatal events in the future, too.
“When that kicks in, what data has shown is, it’s about four to five years down the line they end up having an event like a heart attack,” said Chaudhry.
Having multiple specialists in the center allows Bieniek to help patients with erectile dysfunction, no matter what it is contributing to, or what’s causing it. If a patient could use a heart check-up because of ED, Bieniek can easily send patients to see Chaudhry. If the problem is hormone-based, there is an endocrinologist on-site. A mental health component can be overseen by a behavioral health specialist.
“It’s very inter-related,” Chaudhry said, “everybody, all the specialties like endocrine, bariatric surgery, cardiology, urology, nutrition, we are all under the same roof and we all communicate.”
This whole-body treatment potential requires a lot of communication.
“I’m able to walk down the hall and talk to the other specialists about a patient, or we send electronic messages to discuss patients in more depth,” Bieniek said.
The Tallwood Men’s Health Center is designed to make men comfortable and to help them want to take charge of their health. The center also gives men an age-specific questionnaire to make sure they’re staying up-to-date with all the appropriate preventative health care measures. Bieniek said it has even prompted patients to mention serious problems or their underlying symptoms that would have otherwise gone unmentioned.
“We just try to make it clean,” Dr. Bieniek said, “there’s not diagrams of male genitals on the wall. No pamphlets falling on your head.”