A haven for men to seek healthcare in solace

25 Jan 2023 08:41pm

Men, oftentimes, suffer in silence and usually, it almost never ends well.

The reason runs deep, firmly ingrained to the point that such perilous behaviour becomes second nature.

Man up. Take it like a man.

These are two of the many adages that have enabled men to woefully bottle their feelings.

"Over the centuries, men have grown in an environment where society expects them to be physically strong, tough, and resilient," remarked Dr Anthony Stanislaus.

"Men have also been taught to bottle up or ignore signs and symptoms from both their body and mind," added the physician in an interview via email.

And this has a rather tragic price tag.

"Men, on average, live five years less than women," Dr Stanislaus disclosed.

According to a recent study, men in Malaysia will have a life expectancy of 73.2 years in 2021, while women will have a life expectancy of 78.3 years.

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"Even when facing chronic illnesses, men tend to only seek help at a later stage, which can often be far too late.

"A lot of this ties back to stigma – men often see seeking help or treatment as a weakness whether for physical or mental health and are reluctant to admit to needing help," he lamented.

Nonetheless, times are changing, Dr Stanislaus observed.

More and more men are gradually opening up, flirting with conversations that they would otherwise dismiss with disgust.

But Dr Stanislaus wants change to be faster; such progress needs to be sped up because the systemic neglect has been going on for far too long.

Driven by such passion, Dr Stanislaus co-founded Hisential – a clinic dedicated solely to caring for men’s health.

"Our aim is to ensure men have a safe space to seek medical treatment whenever they need it, without feeling any sense of pressure or shame.

"As a healthcare brand founded by men, for men, we hope to empower Malaysia’s male population to overcome these barriers and embrace preventative care," Dr Stanislaus explained.

Nestled in Bangsar Shopping Centre, not a hint of Hisential’s exterior resembled that of a clinic at all.

Hisential lounge where patrons can enjoy free coffee while waiting for their health check-up.
Hisential lounge where patrons can enjoy free coffee while waiting for their health check-up.

If it wasn’t for the scrubs worn by its staff, one would have deduced that Hisential was probably one of those posh private lounges for the T20s, owing to its dark mahogany laminate flooring and walls.

Even more so with the free coffee that will be offered to customers waiting for a checkup, which comes in a variety of flavours, including strong, local, and international.

"We built it to be a physical space where men can address their healthcare issues in comfort and have access to end-to-end holistic treatments that are discreet and personalised, based on their needs," said Dr Stanislaus.

The establishment also aims to shine greater light on andropause – the male version of menopause – with Dr Stanislaus deeming it to be an issue many men face but rarely disclose.

"Most men have never heard of it, but the consequences on physical and mental well-being are very real," he added.

He recounted a patient he once treated for erectile dysfunction who had suffered from the medical condition due to ill-informed decisions borne of ineptitude.

"The doctor [the patient initially went to] did not investigate further and started him on testosterone replacement therapy. He stopped the treatment after 3 months because he did not see any improvement in his symptoms.

"Typically, one would need to be on the treatment for at least 6 to 9 months before noticing an improvement in their sexual dysfunction.

"I investigated his low testosterone and found out that the cause of his low testosterone was caused by a medical condition called Haemochromatosis," said Dr Stanislaus.

Haemochromatosis is essentially the overaccumulation of iron in the body over time, damaging organs and causing diseases; in this case, the ailment impairs the part of the patient’s brain that regulates testosterone in the body.

"One in every four or five men in Malaysia suffers from low testosterone. Only a fraction of those gets help.

"So, imagine the number of men suffering in silence," was the poser from Dr Stanislaus, who is also the Director of Hisential.