Urologist’s podcast takes candid conversations to men

Guest experts explore diverse health topics, including sleep, the gut and, of course, the penis.

Dr. Richard Pelman’s inaugural podcast makes it clear: He knows his audience. Men can be stubborn and willfully ignorant. They brim with bravado and excuses to forgo routine checkups. They delay responding to signs that their bodies need medical attention.

This spring, as he began his 34th year of urology practice in the Seattle area, Pelman launched “The Original Guide to Men’s Health” podcast series. It is sponsored by the Washington State Urologic Society.

“For a lot of guys, everything’s fine until it isn’t. We’re just trying to get information out that men will hopefully use to ensure they don’t end up with a big problem,” said Pelman, who treats patients at UW Medicine’s Eastside Specialty Center.

picture of Richard Pelman
Pelman is a clinical professor of urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

His interviews are frank, casual and in-depth. The first episode opens with unvarnished snippets of conversation with urologists’ takeaways from caring for male patients. Says one: “There’s nothing worse than seeing someone who’s worked his whole life and he’s got so much to look forward to, but he just never got something checked and we find it too late.”

Interviewees are diverse and selected for their expertise. One guest, Dr. Martin Miner, was on the American Urological Association committee that wrote the current guidelines on testosterone therapy. Another is Kathleen O’Connor, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of Washington and corresponding author of a 2015 study of masculine norms’ influence on men’s health practices.

As of this week, 14 episodes had been posted; others are in planning or production. There are, of course, the requisite segments focused on sexual function, prostate and testicular cancer, and fertility. But Pelman takes an expansive view of what topics might, or should, interest men. The first season includes episodes about mental health, sports injury prevention, healthy gut, cardio health, exercise and nutrition. Next season’s roster includes sleep apnea, LGBTQ health, dependency and addiction, and spirituality. 

Twenty years ago, Pelman helped lead a local effort to collect essential health information from medical specialties – cardiology, dermatology, pulmonology, and so on. – and get that info to companies and labor unions so it could be shared in employee- and customer-facing communications.

Back then it took legwork and pamphlets – pamphlets! – to get messages of prevention to the masses.

Of course, the information is still essential. Today, podcasts serve it out easy as pie. And with far greater emotional influence.

“There are so many stories about guys delaying health needs and suffering from that,” Pelman said. “It’s not just bravado, it’s fear and shyness. We have an episode on testes cancer with an advocate who lost her stepson, a high-schooler, who had a testes mass for years but was too shy to bring it to anyone’s attention.

“Most people in this day and age realized there’s something we can do. We’re in a world of minimally invasive intervention, and it’s much better to find out early before it becomes a big problem.”

- Brian Donohue, 206.543.7856.bdonohue@uw.edu

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