Archive for May, 2015

Can you discuss how menopause might affect my sex life?

DEAR DOCTOR K:

I have recently entered menopause. Can you discuss how menopause might affect my sex life?

DEAR READER: As a woman approaches and enters menopause, her ovaries gradually make less and less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The drop in these hormones -- of estrogen in particular -- can affect how a woman experiences sex. Estrogen stimulates the growth of breast tissue. It maintains blood flow to and lubrication of the vagina. The decline and eventual end to estrogen production provokes a host of symptoms. These include hot flashes, fatigue, vaginal dryness and loss of libido. Many of these changes can have unwanted effects on a woman's sex life.

What can I expect during a prostate biopsy?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My last PSA test result was abnormal, so my doctor has scheduled a prostate biopsy. What can I expect? Is there anything I can do to make the procedure more comfortable and reduce the risk of complications? DEAR READER: An abnormal prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test result often leads to a prostate […]

What is the most effective way to treat premature ejaculation?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been experiencing premature ejaculation. What is the most effective way to treat this?

DEAR READER: Premature ejaculation (PE) occurs when a man reaches orgasm and ejaculates too quickly and without control. In other words, ejaculation occurs before a man wants it to happen. Several factors may contribute to this problem. Diabetes, problems with the thyroid gland or inflammation of the prostate are common culprits. Stress, depression and other emotional factors can also play a role. But most men with PE are healthy.

I have basal cell skin cancer, what will happen during Mohs surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have basal cell skin cancer on my face and am scheduled to have Mohs surgery. Can you describe what will happen during the procedure?

DEAR READER: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Basal cell cancer is a very slow-growing type of skin cancer. It is unlikely to spread to other parts of the body, and therefore is rarely life-threatening. The most common cause of basal cell cancer is damage from sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma begins in basal cells, which are located deep in the skin. When these basal cells turn cancerous, they invade surrounding tissues, spreading downward and outward below the skin's surface.

Does the amount of cholesterol you eat affect the cholesterol levels in your blood?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Does the amount of cholesterol you eat affect the cholesterol levels in your blood?

DEAR READER: I'm glad you asked this question, because I think doctors and the news media have not made it clear. For decades, doctors and food scientists have warned against the dangers of eating foods high in cholesterol. That seemed to make sense. First, high blood levels of so-called "bad" (LDL) cholesterol definitely are bad for your health. Second, it seems logical that the more cholesterol you take into your body when you eat, the higher the cholesterol in your blood. But there's growing agreement among nutrition scientists that cholesterol in food has little effect on cholesterol in the bloodstream.

I have basal cell skin cancer, what will happen during Mohs surgery?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have basal cell skin cancer on my face and am scheduled to have Mohs surgery. Can you describe what will happen during the procedure?

DEAR READER: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Basal cell cancer is a very slow-growing type of skin cancer. It is unlikely to spread to other parts of the body, and therefore is rarely life-threatening. The most common cause of basal cell cancer is damage from sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma begins in basal cells, which are located deep in the skin. When these basal cells turn cancerous, they invade surrounding tissues, spreading downward and outward below the skin's surface.

What does it mean if my hemoglobin is low?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm a 31-year-old woman, and I try to donate blood every couple of months, but the last time I tried, I was turned away because my hemoglobin was too low. What does that mean? And what can I do about it?

DEAR READER: That's terrific that you are a regular blood donor. The American Red Cross says that one pint of blood -- roughly the amount collected during a donation -- can treat an average of three people who need blood. And that treatment can save lives.

Is chocolate actually good for the brain?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Is chocolate really good for the brain?

DEAR READER: It sounds too good to be true, but research has found that certain compounds in chocolate, called cocoa flavonols, may protect brain function. In one recent study, researchers tested the effects of cocoa flavonols in 90 healthy 61- to 85-year-olds with good memory and thinking skills. Participants drank a special brew containing either a low (48 milligrams, or mg), medium (520 mg) or high (993 mg) amount of cocoa flavonols each day.

Can Botox injections help treat chronic migraines?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I suffer from chronic migraine headaches. My doctor mentioned Botox injections as a possible treatment. Can you tell me more?

DEAR READER: I'll bet you were surprised when you told your doctor you needed treatment for your migraines, and he or she said, "You need Botox!" After all, what does removing wrinkles have to do with headaches? Botox can do much more than remove wrinkles. Botox -- short for botulinum toxin -- is a substance made by the bacteria responsible for botulism.