According to the CDC, women are 33% more likely to visit a doctor than men and also are significantly more likely to visit for annual examinations and preventive services. While the reason for this discrepancy is complicated and manifold, it likely can be linked to common misconceptions about men’s health. June is Men’s Health Month, so we’re busting some popular medical myths.

Myth: High lev­els of testos­terone lead to anger and aggression.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone for males—although it also plays an important role for females. It has multiple functions, including sexual development, the deepening of the voice during puberty, muscle size and strength, and bone growth and strength. Low levels of testosterone can impact puberty for adolescent boys and cause symptoms like muscle loss, low libido and mood changes in adults, but too much naturally-occurring testosterone is not a common problem among men. In fact, defining “normal” testosterone levels is difficult as they fluctuate dramatically over time and even in the span of a day.

According to Harvard Health, most of our understanding of abnormally high testosterone comes from looking at athletes who use anabolic steroids or related hormones to improve their performance. These artificially increased levels are associated with increased aggression, but there is little empirical data on the subject—“roid rage” is not a medically established diagnosis. Currently, there is no clear evidence that increased testosterone (natural or artificial) makes you angrier.

Myth: Just tough out any pain or exhaustion experienced when exercising.
Pushing through the pain is a common approach to physical activity, but your body may be trying to tell you something. Persistent pain may be an indicator of an unrealised injury. If you can maintain proper form while exercising, you are likely just experiencing normal soreness or achiness that can come with increased physical activity. However, if you must alter your form or compensate in order to do an activity, it’s a sign something is wrong, and ignoring the pain could lead to further physical damage.

Similarly, increased fatigue or shortness of breath might be a sign of a larger issue. While exercise generally increases energy and improves fatigue, lowered endurance can be a potential sign of cardiovascular disease. If you find that you are unable to exert yourself as normal, talk to your doctor about potential underlying causes.

Myth: Age doesn’t affect male fertility the same way it does female.
The effect of age on female fertility is well known, but recent research has offered more insight into how it can affect men as well. The age of the male partner can impact the chance of pregnancy as well as the pregnancy’s viability. Around age 40 to 45, men’s sperm quality typically decreases. This reduces the overall chance of pregnancy and increases the time to pregnancy—i.e. the number of menstrual cycles it takes to become pregnant. When the father is older, there also is an increased risk of miscarriage.

After pregnancy, there can be additional complications for the children. There is a higher likelihood of Down’s syndrome, and mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, can develop later in life. Infants with fathers over the age of 40 also are five times more likely to develop an autism spectrum disorder than those whose fathers are 30 or younger.

Myth: Erectile dysfunction isn’t a major health concern, and it only affects older men.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a frus­trat­ing and embar­rass­ing issue that is often chalked up to age or a mental block. Mental health and stress can play a role, and the frequency of ED does increase with age. However, there are many causes not associated with either issue. If the prob­lem per­sists for more than three months, it could be an indicator of a separate health problem.

ED can be a symp­tom of other underlying concerns, such as elevated blood pres­sure or high cho­les­terol. These con­di­tions can dam­age your blood ves­sels, restricting blood flow through the body. Smoking is another factor that can damage blood vessels. Quit­ting may help reduce sexual performance dif­fi­cul­ties over time. Heart disease and diabetes also are linked to ED. It is impor­tant to consult with your doctor if you expe­ri­ence prolonged ED. It can help rule out other health concerns that may be con­tribut­ing to your symp­toms.

Myth: Snoring a lot isn’t an issue—everyone snores.
It’s true that nearly everyone snores on occasion, but chronic snoring can be an indicator of serious health issues. Most commonly, it is associated with obstructive sleep apnea. The condition causes people to repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping due to the throat muscles relaxing and blocking the airway. It is often characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence. The pattern is repeated several times during the night, and the pauses in breathing may cause the individual to wake up. Men are two to three times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women.

Chronic snoring isn’t the only indicator of obstructive sleep apnea. The Mayo Clinic suggests consulting your doctor about further evaluation if your snoring is paired with other symptoms, such as:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat upon waking up
  • Restless sleep
  • Gasping or choking at night
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain at night

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention