You might be asking yourself, why is a urologist writing about weight loss? First off, I think every healthcare professional should care about reducing obesity in patients. Obesity is an epidemic that is killing all of us. This is a team sport and we all need to help.
Second, obesity plays a HUGE role in many urological conditions. Erectile dysfunction, bladder issues, prostate cancer, low testosterone and kidney stones are all more prevalent in patients who are overweight.
We get it. Losing weight is hard. So many of us have tried to lose weight and failed, and even if we succeed at losing weight in the short term, most of us will gain it back again soon after our diets end. It’s important for urologists to understand this struggle.
I’m going to explain how obesity increases risk for these conditions, what you can do about it (with a little help from Pazona MD), and why maintaining a healthy weight matters so much.
Obesity and Low Testosterone
Testosterone is a hormone that helps regulate sexual function, muscle mass and strength, as well as physical appearance. It’s also important for maintaining bone density. Low testosterone levels have been linked to erectile dysfunction (ED), low libido and fatigue in men.
Although obesity does not directly cause low testosterone, it does reduce the amount of free testosterone available in your body. Fat cells convert testosterone to estrogen which competes with testosterone for binding sites on cells throughout your body. In addition to ED symptoms mentioned above; other signs include: increased body fat around waistline; enlarged breasts in men due to deposits of fat within breast tissue (gynecomastia); decreased facial hair growth; thinning scalp hair at top of head where it meets forehead.
Unfortunately, this becomes a vicious cycle. You have less energy and motivation to work out, you gain more weight, your free testosterone levels continue to decline, thus leading to sitting on the couch. The good news is that working with a urologist who specializes in testosterone optimization and weight loss can help you address both issues simultaneously.
Obesity and Prostate Cancer
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. According to studies conducted at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer tend to have higher BMIs than those who do not have the disease–a finding that may be linked to genetics or lifestyle choices such as dieting habits or physical activity levels.
Now some of you may argue that prostate cancer is often not lethal so why should we care? A study out of the UK demonstrated that for every 5 point increase in body-mass index (BMI the most common measure of ideal body weight), that the risk of dying from prostate cancer increases by 10%. Even if you don’t die from prostate cancer, the treatments (radiation or surgery) can leave you with erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence.
Since the main risk factor for prostate cancer is your genetics, maintaining an ideal weight is the only modifiable risk factor that you can control.
Obesity and Erectile Dysfunction
Obesity and erectile dysfunction are both common problems for men. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimate that nearly half of all men with diabetes have erectile dysfunction. What’s the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes? Obesity.
In addition to diabetes, obesity can cause erectile dysfunction because it increases the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These diseases lead to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries in our body. Any guess as to which are the first arteries to get critically affected by atherosclerosis? You guess it, the penis.
Narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the penis can lead to an inability to get or maintain an erection and difficulty ejaculating when you do have sex.
If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight may help improve your erectile function by reducing high blood pressure (which improves arterial health), controlling cholesterol levels, reversing diabetes mellitus (a risk factor for erectile dysfunction), reducing inflammation in fatty tissue throughout your body–including in regions important for sexual function.
As a bonus, losing weight will make your penis appear bigger. I’ve yet to meet a man who wouldn’t like that! Although for the record, it sadly won’t actually get bigger. But appearances are everything.
Obesity and Kidney Stones
Obesity is a risk factor for kidney stones. If you’ve never had a kidney stone, then consider yourself lucky. They are miserable. Obesity is associated with elevated blood pressure, diabetes and poor diet, all of which can increase your chances of developing kidney stones. If you are overweight or obese it’s important that you lose weight as this may help reduce the risk of future episodes of kidney stones.
The best way to prevent kidney stones is drinking mainly water. Increasing water intake, while reducing the intake of soda, juice, and alcohol, can also be one of the most effective and easiest weight loss tools. I once had a patient lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks just by cutting out Mountain Dew from his diet. Liquid sugar is your enemy! Stay away!
Obesity and Overactive Bladder
An overactive bladder or OAB causes you to feel like you have to urinate more often than normal — and sometimes even when you don’t need to go at all. This can lead to accidents in public places or at home if you aren’t able to make it to the bathroom on time. Obesity increases your risk for developing OAB because fat cells secrete chemicals that signal your bladder muscles to contract more frequently than usual, causing frequent urination episodes during the day and night.
Fortunately there are things we can do about this condition! If you have OAB symptoms but are overweight or obese, losing weight may help reduce them by reducing fluid retention within the body and improving muscle tone around internal organs such as kidneys and bladders.
As bladder experts, a urologist can also help treat your overactive bladder while you begin your weight loss journey.
Obesity and Surgery Complications
Obesity has been shown to increase the risk of complications after surgery. This is especially true for patients who are undergoing urological procedures, such as radical prostatectomy or cystectomy (removal of the bladder). Obese patients tend to have more blood clots, infections and blood loss than normal-weight individuals. They also have higher rates of death following these procedures.
There is not a single surgery that a urologist performs which is not exceedingly easier to perform on healthy weight individuals. Easier surgeries are faster with fewer complications. Help us help you by shedding some pounds.
Losing Weight is Hard but We Can help!
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your urological and overall health. Losing weight is hard but it’s worth it: you’ll feel better, have more energy and be more active. The first step in losing weight is to find the right partner.
At Pazona MD we are the only urology practice in Nashville and the middle Tennessee region to offer a comprehensive weight loss program. Our team coaches you towards better dietary choices, a feasible exercise plan, discusses the importance of sleep hygiene and helps to manage your biggest enemy . . . that negative voice in your head.
We also have some help from the most effective weight loss medication on the market, semaglutide. We used to say that there are no magic pills (medications). Well now there is and we have it. You can learn more about semaglutide and the Pazona MD Weight Loss Program here.
Losing weight is hard, but it’s worth it. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the severity of several urologic diseases and improve your quality of life. Let’s work together to shed some pounds, while improving your performance in the bedroom and the bathroom.