Is bright morning light better than Viagra?

What if bright light for 30 min each morning could increase a man’s sexual satisfaction and even boost his testosterone levels?  How much less Viagra would be prescribed?

We know that light therapy (using a lamp that that has the right wavelengths and strength) is an effective treatment for SAD (seasonal effective disorder).  We are still in the midst of learning about light therapy and all of its potential.  But knowing that most babies are conceived in June, when we have the maximum hours of daylight, there is a basis for looking into the effect of light on reproduction.  A group in Italy studied a group of 38 sexually unsatisfied men and shared their results with the European Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology in September.  This group of men had a mean sexual satisfaction score of 2/10 at the beginning of the study.  After just 2 weeks of treatment with 30 minutes of 10000 lux light each morning, the mean score had increased to 6/10.  In the control group, who was treated with filtered light, the mean score was 2.7/10.  In addition to the subjective satisfaction score, the mens’ testosterone levels almost doubled.  The retinohypothalamic tract (sunlight to retina to hypothalamus) is well established as the circadian rhythm pathway.  Treating our brains with bright light at various times of day has different effects.  Bright morning light helps us wake up, energizes us, and according to this study may improve a man’s sexual satisfaction and testosterone levels.  Conversely, bright light at night, or even that from our phones and computers, can cause insomnia, make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, and affect our mood in a negative way.  We’ll have another post about that soon, along with information about the types of lights needed.

This is a fascinating area of study.  Be prepared to see more chronotherapy (time and light therapies) as they are non-pharmacologic treatments.  That means they cost less, and have fewer side effects or interactions with medications, and they are helpful for mental health issues at the very least, if not more.  Further, here at any of our Kelly Goodman Group locations we are open to discussing any complementary, integrative, or functional medicine treatment you would like to try.

Why Primary Care? Part 1

I’ve heard many people say that since they are healthy they don’t need a primary care provider. They are wrong.  Primary care is not just for people with chronic health conditions, although everyone with a chronic concern like high blood pressure or asthma should definitely have a primary care provider.  Let’s look at a fictional typical young and healthy patient and see how they are cared for with and without primary care.

Jessica is 28 years old. She is in good health overall and moved to Washington, DC two years ago for a job.  Since arriving she has gone to an Urgent Care twice for a UTI (urinary tract infection) and once for a sinus infection.  She knows she is allergic to penicillin but can’t recall the names of the antibiotics she has taken for these infections.  She has also seen a dermatologist for a skin issue twice.  She has not been to a gynecologist since she moved here.  She does not have a primary care provider.  She relies on Google and Yelp reviews to find healthcare and so far this approach is working for her as far as she is concerned.  Her copays are 75$ for each Urgent Care visit and $40 for the dermatologist or other specialists.

Let’s imagine Jessica begins to see a primary care provider (PCP). She schedules a physical every one to two years with a copay of $0 (it’s fully covered by insurance).  These visits focus on preventative health and in addition to the physical exam, screening lab tests, and review of vaccination status her provider collects a family history, list of allergies and medications, and social history that includes her lifestyle.  Jessica discusses her recent fatigue and the dietary changes she is making as she trains for a team triathlon.  Her PCP orders a B12 test and the results show a low level of B12 and with supplementation she notices a significant improvement.  She tells her provider about her healthcare visits from the past two years and signs a release to have her records transferred to her primary care office.  Now all of her records are in one place.  The PCP recommends a “well woman exam” for Jessica so she also has the recommended Pap smear and STD screening as her PCP takes care of her GYN needs as well.  Her primary care provider is looking out for her overall physical and mental health.

Now, when she needs refills of her dermatologic cream, she requests them from her primary care office, saving $40.  When she awakens one morning with symptoms of another UTI she calls her PCP and gets a same day appointment where she is prescribed an appropriate antibiotic given her allergy and the medications and culture results of her past infections, paying only $20 instead of $75.  Further, she is screened for STDs regularly, protecting her fertility for when is ready to start a family.  When she plans a vacation to Asia with her friends she is able to get the vaccines she needs to travel safely, and medications including antibiotics and motion sickness prevention to bring with her just in case.

So again, why does Jessica need primary care if she is a healthy young person? A good primary care provider offers holistic and preventative healthcare for people of all ages and in all states of health.  Having a primary care office is the healthiest, most efficient, and cost effective way to take care of your health.  At Promenade Primary Care we will take all of your past and current health issues into consideration as well as your lifestyle and health goals to provide you with the best care possible.  Since we are a small private practice, we can truly personalize your care and establish close provider/patient relationships.  And we will make it easy.