Showing posts with label Men’s Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Men’s Health. Show all posts

March 8, 2020

Eye Circles Although Not Dangerous It makes Us Look Older and Not as Healthy

What's to know about raccoon eyes?
 Source: Medical News Today

Although dark eye circles are not dangerous, many people seek ways to treat or hide them. However, it may not be possible to remove them altogether.
Some people may think that dark circles under their eyes make them look tired and older, so they search for home remedies and treatments that can minimize their appearance. 
Keep reading to learn more about how to remove or improve the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. 

two men asleep to try to remove dark circles under eyes permanentlyShare on Pinterest
A person may reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes by getting adequate sleep.
Once a person understands why dark circles develop under their eyes, they can select an appropriate treatment. Some people change their lifestyle habits, while others turn to treatments and products that they find in beauty stores. While these are likely safe, most of these home treatments may be ineffective.
People may not be able to remove dark eye circles altogether, but several techniques and remedies can help minimize their appearance.

1. Getting adequate sleep

Some people notice dark eye circles when they experience periods of low-quality sleep. Lack of sleep may aggravate dark eye circles. Limited studies have shown that rest and good general health lessens the dark of eye circles. 

2. Elevating the head during sleep

People who experience darkening of the skin under their eyes in the morning that fades slightly throughout the day may have increased blood vessels or vasculature around their eyes. The darker color can also be the result of swelling. 
By elevating the head during sleep, blood will travel away from the head and face and may reduce swelling and lessen the dark color under the eyes. 

3. Applying cold compresses 

People with increased vasculature under their eyes may benefit from applying cold compresses. Cold compresses can constrict the blood vessels around the eyes, which can reduce their appearance at the skin’s surface. Compresses can also reduce swelling around the eyes and lessen the dark color. 

4. Minimizing sun exposure

People can reduce dark eye circles by protecting their skin from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation can worsen dark eye circles in some people. Protection with sunglasses, moisturizers with sunscreens, and hats can protect the skin from the sun and prevent worsening of dark eye circles. 

5. Cucumber slices and tea bags

Sometimes. people apply cucumber slices to their eyes to reduce the appearance of dark eye circles. Although the mechanism of its effect is unknown, the cold temperature of the cucumber slices may improve swelling due to sleeping, eczema, or allergies. 
Some people also use tea bags. Letting them cool off in the fridge and then placing them on the eyes might produce the same effect as cold compresses or cold cucumber slices. Some suggest using caffeinated tea bags because caffeine can also constrict blood vessels and reduce their appearance on the skin surface.
Caffeine can also speed up blood flow across blood vessels around the eyes and can give a youthful and fresh appearance to the skin.
It is important to note that researchers have not studied the effects of applying cucumber slices or cold tea bags to the eyes to prevent or treat dark eye circles. 

6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C can increase collagen production. Increasing collagen production under the eyes can reduce blood stasis, which may cause discoloration. Blood stasis refers to blood that pools in blood vessels. 
People may notice an improved appearance of dark circles under their eyes when using beauty products with high concentrations of vitamin C. 

7. Retinoid creams

Retinoid creams, found in beauty stores, can also help promote collagen production and improve the appearance of dark eye circles. These vitamin A-derived creams also decrease the melanin content in the skin. Melanin is what gives skin its color. 
Retinoids creams are not appropriate for everyone. People should talk to their doctor or another healthcare professional before using retinoid creams. 

8. Hydroquinone, kojic acid, and arbutin creams

Hydroquinone, kojic acid, and arbutin are compounds that disrupt the production of melanin in the skin. According to an article in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, low concentrations of hydroquinone and kojic acid can be effective. People in some countries have limited access to hydroquinone creams because they may cause side effects. 
Kojic acid and arbutin are naturally derived substances. In small doses, arbutin can improve the appearance of dark circles under eyes, but high concentrations can cause hyperpigmentation. 
Before using a beauty product containing hydroquinone, kojic acid, or arbutin, people should consult a doctor or dermatologist. 

9. Vitamin K

In one study, researchers evaluated the efficacy of an antiwrinkle and dark eye circle pad that contained 3% caffeine and 1% vitamin E. Participants wore the eye pads for 1 hour every night for 4 weeks. The researchers noticed a reduced appearance of dark eye circles at the end of the study.
Further studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of vitamin K and caffeine loaded pads for reducing dark eye circles. 

10. Concealers and makeup

Some people choose to use makeup to conceal their dark eye circles. Mineral makeup foundation can conceal dark patches under the eyes. 
Optical diffusers are a type of cosmetics that reflects light away from the skin and can improve the appearance of dark circles. These techniques do not treat or prevent dark eye circles.  Causes
To remove dark eye circles permanently, people need to figure out their cause. People can develop dark eye circles for multiple reasons, including: 
  • genetic factors
  • presence of melanin in the dermal layer of the skin
  • post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • secondary to eczema or allergies
  • anemia
  • lifestyle habits
  • swelling of the eyes
  • presence of blood vessels at the skin surface
  • shadowing due to thin skin
Some lifestyle factors that may influence the appearance of dark eye circles include:
  • lack of sleep
  • stress
  • alcohol overuse
  • smoking 
People can change certain lifestyle factors to improve health and reduce the appearance of dark eye circles. However, a person cannot modify some other factors, such as genetics. 
People can try to use products or methods to reduce the appearance of dark eye circles, but they may not be able to remove them entirely or permanently.  When to see a doctor
Dark eye circles under the eyes are not detrimental to a person’s health, but some people may choose to consult a doctor or dermatologist for cosmetic purposes. People who experience low self-esteem or poor quality of life because of dark eye circles may benefit from seeking medical help.
A doctor or dermatologist can help to diagnose and classify dark eye circles, which can help people choose the most appropriate treatment or lifestyle change. Doctors can also help people manage their expectations around the effectiveness of each treatment. 
Bear in mind that most treatments require months of daily use before a person notices any significant change. 
Sometimes doctors may suggest noninvasive techniques, such as intense pulsed light, radiofrequency, q-switched lasers, and pulsed dye lasers, to reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. 
However, some people may require invasive techniques, such as: 
  • chemical peels
  • medical tattoos
  • ablative laser resurfacing 
  • hyaluronic acid gel soft tissue fillers 
  • fat transfer 
  • surgery
  • implants 
People should only consider these options in extreme cases. 
Dark eye circles are a common reason people consult a dermatologist. 
Some people may not like the appearance of dark circles under their eyes and experience low self-esteem and reduced quality of life as a result, but it is important to remember that they are harmless. 
Several medical treatments and home remedies can help reduce the appearance of dark eye circles. These may include cucumber slices and beauty products. 
Although most of these treatments are safe to use, researchers have not confirmed their effectiveness in reducing dark eye circles.

December 19, 2019

When You See A Butt Well Rounded It Could Just Be The Removable Butt Enhancing Underwear

This is one of those subjects I wanted to say so much but it would have taken the time for more serious news. The ladies have been augmenting all the parts of the body they got from birth you can think off, but they started way back with the boobs and butts. How long is the age of the technology coming of war and doctors trying to repair everything on the soldier from half a face to total crouch? This is where the innovation comes from and you have medical personnel with licenses to do what some call plastic surgery (which in most cases has no plastic involved). I find it as a personal taste to find out my date has that done but that is just me. If the female sex is doing it and the Transgenders have been using all available and affordable techiniques you will figure it will go International. But you also have the part you have to take off when you go to bed. I love the removable butt,  I don't know how a guy will explain that to his date? "I think I danced too much honey and perspired all my fluids away but they will be back to normal tomorrow." 

 The US patent office is littered with hilariously dry descriptions of male support garments. One underwear brand claims it can provide the ideal “cosmetic buttock profile” while another promise “integral male member adjustable support.” One pair of padded boxers with removable butt insert says it also has a system for “easily venting the scrotum.” 
Then there’s Rounderbum, a butt-enhancing underwear brand that comes with two butt-shaped polyurethane foam pieces woven into the brief’s backside, creating what the makers describe as “lift technology.”   
“When brands use silicone, it’s heavier, and it’s a little more obvious if someone were to smack your butt,” Rounderbum inventor Jonathan Diersing tells me. “Ours is spongy, like a real butt.”  
There have been predecessors, but Rounderbum, which says it’s done over $1 million in sales since 2015, is perhaps the most visible male butt-enhancing underwear brand in history. After winning $150,000 during an appearance on Shark Tank, Diersing claims his Amazon sales have shot up a thousand percent; his butt-lifting boxer briefs are currently the fourth best-selling pair of trunks on the site
Rounderbum’s rapid expansion suggests men are under similar pressure to women to present a thick and juicy ass to the world. But Diersing, of course, would like to sell a more empowering message. “We’re not here to fake anyone out,” he says. “We just want your clothes to fit as well on you as they do on a mannequin.” 
Surely, wearing padded underwear is a healthier way of dealing with your own body dysmorphia than using steroids or compulsively exercising, but it also perpetuates unrealistic standards of beauty, according to Columbia University psychology professor Melanie Brewster. “It’s hard for me to imagine that when someone goes out and buys any kind of shaping undergarment, that there isn’t some underlying dissatisfaction with their own bodies,” she says. 

Men, especially queer men, have long been padding their asses. But the majority of products previously available were marketed for reasons other than image-improvement. Rounderbum is refreshingly shameless about their mission to make your butt look bigger, and they’re not hiding behind the medical language to justify that mission. 
Butt for You, which has been selling padded underwear since 1997, features a man in a wheelchair on its homepage; the owner told SFGate that many of his clients were seniors and HIV positive men who’d lost fat in their butts from years of taking antiretroviral drugs. BottomsUp, a brand that made headlines about ten years ago, also catered to cancer patients and men in wheelchairs. Rounderbum’s advertising, in contrast, is de-medicalized, emphasizing the confidence a man can feel with a bubble butt (assuming it doesn't slide around). 

 The ascendance of padded underwear for men isn’t entirely expected. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic, women still make up the bulk of cosmetic butt procedures, with men undergoing just 2.6% of a total of 20,126 butt augmentations and 3.7% of butt lifts in 2016. 
But Karen E Jones, the owner of Bubbles Bodywear, says that more men are buying her products than ever before. “The men complain that their jeans or pants sag. We had one doctor who felt self-conscious when residents were walking behind him. He thought they were just staring at his flat butt.” 
She adds that a “perfect” butt just isn’t attainable for many men through exercise alone. “They aren’t genetically built with the hormones, fat and muscle makeup in the backside," she said. (According to a 2009 study, women on average store 6 to 11 percent more body fat than men.) ”Sometimes they need a little silicone help.” 
Unlike Rounderbum, Bubbles offers a range of padding, from one to three inches, as well as optional silicone inserts. Jones says her sales reps spend hours on the phone with customers, trying to craft the ideal derriere. “It’s like fitting a bra times one hundred,” she said.
Brandon Gray bought Rounderbums after seeing ads for the bulbous underwear brand pop up on Facebook. “I’ve had many compliments,” he tells me. “I’ve even had friends ask me if I’ve had cosmetic surgery.”

Gray was so happy with the way the briefs made him feel that he bought a pair for every occasion. “I’ve always been self-conscious about my butt. I think most guys check their butts out in the mirror and wonder if they look okay.” 
Naturally, the Amazon reviews for Rounderbum are all over the map. One customer praised the briefs for cupping his cheeks effectively, while another remarked, “these will make you look like Jennifer Lopez before her reduction.” Still, one gets the sense that the briefs are solving a pressing issue for some men, especially those who have butts so flat that they can’t hold their jeans. As one customer says, “I have worn these with loose jeans and also skinny pants (that show what little real butt I have) and have [received] compliments from everyone, including slightly inappropriate ones from coworkers.”  
Brewster worries about what the rise of padded underwear says about male self-esteem. If a patient brought up padded underwear as a solution to their problems, she says she’d proceed with caution. “If people compliment you on your new butt, is that going to make you feel better about yourself or is that going to make you feel potentially worse because you’re getting attention based on this superficial modification that you’ve made?’” 
She believes that gay men, in particular, are more likely to self-objectify. “Rather than really living in and enjoying your body, you’re constantly thinking about how this body can look better for the benefit of other people,” she says. “Gay men internalize the male gaze just like straight women do.” 
Every time someone changes their shape artificially, they’re putting forth an idea that isn’t achievable, she adds. “I’d just suggest that they wear it mindfully.”

May 27, 2019

There are Better ways to be Masculine Than to Follow Tradition to an Early Death

Men's groups are coming together to discover the meaning of masculinity in the age of #MeToo.
Leonardo Santamaria for NPR
Sean Jin is 31 and says he's not washed a dish until he was in his sophomore year of college.
"Literally my mom and my grandma would ... tell me to stop doing dishes because I'm a man and I shouldn't be doing dishes." It was a long time, he says, before he realized their advice and that sensibility were "not OK."
Now, as part of the Masculinity Action Project, a group of men in Philadelphia who regularly meet to discuss and promote what they see as healthier masculinity, Jin has been thinking a lot about what men are "supposed to" do and not do. 
He joined the peer-led group, he says, because men face real issues like higher rates of suicide than women and much higher rates of incarceration.
"It's important to have an understanding of these problems as rooted in an economic crisis and a cultural crisis in which there can be a progressive solution," Jin says.
In supporting each other emotionally, Jin says, men need alternative solutions to those offered by the misogynist incel — "involuntary celibate" — community or other men's rights activists who believe men are oppressed.
"Incels or the right wing provide a solution that's really based on more control of women and more violence toward minorities," Jin says.
Instead, he says, he and his friends seek the sort of answers "in which liberation for minorities and more freedom for women is actually empowering for men."
Once a month, the Philadelphia men's group meets to learn about the history of the feminist movement and share experiences — how they learned what "being a man" means and how some of those ideas can harm other people and even themselves. They talk about how best to support each other.

This spring, part of one of the group's meetings involved standing in a public park and giving a one-minute speech about any topic they chose. One man spoke of being mocked and spit upon for liking ballet as a 9-year-old boy; another spoke of his feelings about getting a divorce; a third man shared with the others what it was like to tell his father "I love you" for the first time at the age of 38.

The idea of such mentoring and support groups isn't new, though today's movement is trying to broaden its base. Paul Kivel, an activist and co-founder of a similar group that was active from the 1970s to the 1990s in Oakland, Calif., says men's groups in those days were mostly white and middle-class.
Today, the global nonprofit ManKind Project says it has close to 10,000 members in 21 nations, is ethnically and socioeconomically diverse and aims to draw men of all ages.
"We strive to be increasingly inclusive and affirming of cultural differences, especially with respect to color, class, sexual orientation, faith, age, ability, ethnicity, and nationality," the group's website says.
Toby Fraser, a co-leader of the Philadelphia group that Jin attends, says its members range in age from 20 to 40; it's a mix of heterosexual, queer and gay men.
Simply having a broad group of people who identify as masculine — whatever their age, race or sexual orientation — can serve as a helpful sounding board, Fraser says.
"Rather than just saying, 'Hey, we're a group of dudes bonding over how great it is to be dudes,' " Fraser says, "it's like, 'Hey, we're a group of people who have been taught similar things that don't work for us and we see not working or we hear not working for the people around us. How can we support each other to make it different?' "
Participants are also expected to take those ideas outside the group and make a difference in their communities.
For example, Jeremy Gillam coaches ice hockey and life skills at an after-school hockey program for children in Philadelphia. He says he and his fellow coaches teach the kids in their program that even though the National Hockey League still allows fighting, they should not respond to violence with violence. He says he tells them, "The referee always sees the last violent act, and that's what's going to be penalized."
That advice surprises some boys, Gillam says.  
"One of the first things that we heard," he says, "is, 'Dad told me to stick up for myself. Dad's not going to be happy with me if I just let this happen, so I'm going to push back.' "
Vashti Bledsoe is the program director at Lutheran Settlement House, the Philadelphia nonprofit that organizes the monthly men's group. She says men in the group have already started talking about how the #MeToo movement pertains to them — and that's huge.
"These conversations are happening [in the community], whether they're happening in a healthy or unhealthy way ... but people don't know how to frame it and name it," Bledsoe says. "What these guys have done is to be very intentional about teaching people how to name [the way ideas about masculinity affect their own actions] and say, 'It's OK. It doesn't make you less of a man to recognize that.' "
Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association published guidelines this year suggesting that therapists consider masculine social norms when working with male clients. Some traditional ideas of masculinity, the group says, "can have negative consequences for the health of boys and men."
The guidelines quickly became controversial. New York magazine writer Andrew Sullivan wrote that they "pathologize half of humanity," and National Review writer David French wrote that the American Psychological Association "declares war on 'traditional masculinity.' "
Christopher Liang, an associate professor of counseling psychology at Lehigh University and a co-author of the APA guidelines, says they actually grew out of decades of research and clinical experience.
For example, he says, many of the male clients he treats were taught to suppress their feelings, growing up — to engage in violence or to drink, rather than talk. And when they do open up, he says, their range of emotions can be limited.  
"Instead of saying, 'I'm really upset', they may say, 'I'm feeling really angry,' because anger is one of those emotions that men have been allowed to express," Liang says.
He says he and his colleagues were surprised by the controversy around the guidelines, which were intended for use by psychologists. The APA advisory group is now working on a shorter version for the general public that they hope could be useful to teachers and parents.
Criticism of the APA guidelines focused on the potentially harmful aspects of masculinity, but the APA points to other masculine norms — such as valuing courage and leadership — as positive.
Aylin Kaya, a doctoral candidate in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland, recently published research that gets at that wider range of masculine norms and stereotypes in a study of male college students.
Some norms, such as the need to be dominant in a relationship or the inability to express emotion, were associated with lower "psychological well-being," she found. That's a measure of whether students accepted themselves, had positive relationships with other people and felt "a sense of agency" in their lives, Kaya explains. But the traditional norm of "a drive to win and to succeed" contributed to higher well-being.  
Kaya adds that even those findings should be teased apart. A drive to win or succeed could be good for society and for male or female identity if it emphasizes agency and mastery, but bad if people associate their self-worth with beating other people.
Kaya says one potential application of her research would be for psychologists — and men, in general — to separate helpful ideas of masculinity from harmful ones.
"As clinicians," she says, "our job is to make the invisible visible ... asking clients, 'Where do you get these ideas of how you're supposed to act? Where did you learn that?' To help them kind of unpack — 'I wasn't born with this; it wasn't my natural way of being. I was socialized into this; I learned it. And maybe I can start to unlearn it.' "
For example, Kaya says, some male clients come to her looking for insight because they've been struggling with romantic relationships. It turns out, she says, the issue beneath the struggle is that they feel they cannot show emotion without being ridiculed or demeaned, which makes it hard for them to be intimate with their partners.
Given the findings from her study on perceptions of masculinity, Kaya says, she now might ask them to first think about why they feel like they can't show emotion — whether that's useful for them — and then work on ways to help them emotionally connect with people.

March 15, 2019

Chiseled Abs 6 Packs and ....Meaningless? Not?

Related image
 I can't count yet. Do they look like 6?

In 2019, our lives are ruled by meaningless “likes,” Pete Davidson is PDA-ing hard with Kate Beckinsale, and if you’re a gay man, you still face a number of superficial and inane guidelines that, if crossed, would merit shame or ostracizing. For starters, you must be infatuated with Robyn. You also have to possess very strong feelings about Call Me by Your Name, and if you read the book first, it’s a rule that you make that very clear to everyone you’ve ever met. And perhaps the biggest gay guideline that reigns supreme, the one the culture seems to agree on, the most important one of all: You must, must, must, MUST have a perfect six-pack. If your six-pack is anything other than perfect in every way, shape, and form, you might as well start wearing baggy T-shirts and move into a cave.

That’s how it feels, anyway. It’s like washboard abs have morphed into the barometer that determines whether or not one is truly hot and, with that in mind, is a gauge to tell if one is worthy of your attention, love, and—oh yeah—sex. Since the dawn of time, or at least since the beginning of modern gay culture (and the sexualization of men across orientations, while we’re at it), the six-pack has been the Holy Grail of fitness. If there was ever a gay Moses, he surely held up a stone tablet stating that having a rockin’ six-pack was a sexual commandment.

We’re the generation that grew up with Abercrombie and Calvin Klein models, and while Abercrombie has since literally fallen out of fashion, Klein’s most recent ad campaign spotlights gay catnip Shawn Mendes, with his chiseled bare stomach rippling on billboards around the world. Every issue of any fitness magazine has some variation of the words “Get” and “Abs” and “Now.” All of Zac Efron’s movies feature at least one scene in which the actor removes his shirt, even in the recent trailer for a movie in which he plays the serial killer Ted Bundy. We can all agree that the best part of any superhero movie isn’t the explosions, it's when the lead hero changes into his superhero spandex. Even in artistic depictions of Jesus Christ himself when he’s on the cross literally being crucified, we see the Son of God with a perfect six-pack. Every which way we turn, it’s beaten into our heads. Abs: good and godly. And gay men seem to be most affected by the cultural view of male beauty.

What’s the result of all of this abdominal fixation? It means a never-ending quest for a taut stomach that may as well lead some to bring a cot and a toaster into the gym, since tons of us practically reside there already. In uniforms of Nike high socks and Airpods, we’re all sweating away, kicking our legs up like we just dropped PCP and strapping weights to our chests like some self-induced Game of Thrones–style torture technique. The wheat industry has to be in a tailspin, because nobody even nibbles on bad carbs anymore. A gulp of air counts as dessert. Party!

From there, dating apps like Grindr aren’t filled with headshots but instead amount to scrolling grids of torsos. It’s a clichéd facet of gay dating by now, but ruminate on the weight of that thought for a second: In this twisted world, someone’s actual face has become a secondary body part, and sometimes even a complete afterthought. It all almost amounts to a gay episode of The Twilight Zone, where faces don’t exist and everyone speaks out of their navels. (Jordan Peele, you may take this idea.) 

The insanity of this mental culture perfectly crystalized for me last summer during a delightful day at the beach with some friends of mine. At least, it should have been delightful, since some of them started dieting weeks and months beforehand for this very moment. As we were all quote-unquote relaxing, I found myself adjusting in my chair so my lower stomach wouldn’t protrude as much as I could help it. But when I looked around, other guys were doing the exact same thing, even the leaner ones who I assumed wouldn’t have a care in the world about how they looked. On top of it all, everyone was only worried about their own stomachs. Like in an inverted episode of Judge Judy, we were only judging ourselves. (Insert Lady Gaga’s guttural “Shallow” scream here.)

Even the fittest guys have body issues, and that isn’t hyperbole. Searching for answers to my abdominal conundrums, I did what anyone searching for answers would do: Googled “ab issues,” which was stupid. Then I spoke to Ian Holloway, an associate professor at UCLA who specializes in LGBTQ health and well-being. “I see both gay individuals and couples, and for 90 percent of my clients, body-image issues are at the top of the list of things they struggle with,” explains Holloway, who also has a private practice in West Hollywood (the epicenter of the six-pack madness if ever there was one). “The vast majority of my clients, despite what their external appearance might be, whether they have a six-pack or not, wrestle with this ideal image of themselves.”

So how, then, are we supposed to rise above it all? “Well, I help guys define what's ideal or acceptable for them, and how that lines up with what's attainable for them.” In other words, do what’s right for you, not what’s right for Shawn Mendes. “It’s important for guys to get a clear idea of what's attainable and realistic and work towards that, as opposed to trying to achieve the impossible ideal we're bombarded with.”

Adjusting expectations and maintaining personal happiness is easier said than done. At least we can agree this gay six-pack fantasy that surrounds us on all sides takes it all a bit too far. Will I ever have a phenomenally rigid, deeply defined, wildly tight, insanely solid, sculpted-by-the-gods, Mark Wahlberg–resembling, underwear-model-worthy, bulging and muscular, intricately carved, professionally chiseled, wildly shredded, totally fatless, definitely chubless, righteously rippled, abdominally perfect, super jacked, lean, blessed, #blessed, yolked, yerked (okay, I made that one up), expertly cut six-pack? Probably not. And that’s just fine by me.

 Originally posted on  GQ

April 5, 2018

I’m a Gay Psychiatrist and Here’s Why I Went on Grindr to Survey Men {What is Grind'r Doing to Our Gay Men?}


This story originated at VOX and it has the adamfoxie🦊blog taste

When I open the Grindr app on my smartphone, I see there’s a 26-year-old man with tanned abs just 200 feet away. He’s called “looking4now,” and his profile explains that he wants sex at his place as soon as possible.
Scrolling down, I find 100 similar profiles within a one-mile radius of my apartment in Boston. I can filter them by body type, sexual position (top, bottom, or versatile), and HIV status.
As a gay psychiatrist who studies gender and sexuality, I’m thrilled with the huge strides we’ve made over the past decade to bring gay relationships into the mainstream. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Today in Boston, two men can walk down the street holding hands without consequence.
But I’m worried by the rise of the underground digital bathhouse. Apps like Grindr, with 3 million daily active users, and others like Scruff and Jack’d, are designed to help gay men solicit sex, often anonymously, online. I am all for sexual liberation, but I can’t stop wondering if these apps also have a negative effect on gay men’s mental health.
Since there’s little published research on the men using Grindr, I decided to conduct an informal survey and ask men why they’re on the app so much and how it’s affecting their relationships and mental health. I created a profile identifying myself as a medical writer looking to talk to men about their experiences. I received about 50 responses (including propositions). 
It’s a small sample size, but enough to give us some clues about how Grindr is affecting gay men. And it doesn’t look good.

Apps like Grindr are designed to make finding sex easy. And that can make them hard to stop using.

The most common reason users gave for going on the app is that sex feels great and Grindr makes it accessible, right at your fingertips. The screen full of half-naked men excites users. With a few clicks, there’s a possibility of meeting a sexual partner within the hour.
Neuroscientists have shown that orgasm causes activation of pleasure areas of the brain like the ventral tegmental area while deactivating areas involved with self-control. And these patterns of activation in men are strikingly similar to what researchers see in the brain of individuals using heroin or cocaine. So when a neutral action (clicking on Grindr) is paired with a pleasurable response in the brain (orgasm), humans learn to do that action over and over again.
This can be a normal pleasure response or it could be a setup for addiction, depending on the situation and individual.
Grindr, intentionally or not, also leverages a psychological concept called variable ratio reinforcement, in which rewards for clicking come at unpredictable intervals. You may find a hookup immediately, or you may be on your phone for hours before you find one.
Variable ratio reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to reinforce behavior, and it makes stopping that behavior extremely difficult. Slot machines are a classic example. Because gamblers never know when the next payout will come, they can’t stop pulling the handle. They hold out hope that the next pull will give them the pleasurable sound of coins clanking against a metal bin, and they end up pulling for hours.
Now imagine a slot machine that rewards you with an orgasm at unpredictable intervals. This is potentially a powerful recipe for addiction and may explain why one user I spoke with stays on Grindr for up to 10 hours at a time, hoping to find the perfect partner for casual sex.
The phrase “addiction” continues to be controversial when it comes to sex and technology, But as John Pachankis, an LGBTQ mental health expert at the Yale School of Public Health, described the impact of Grindr to me: “I don’t know if it’s an ‘addiction,’ but I know it causes a lot of distress.”
For now, it’s hard to know just how many Grindr users feel their use of the app is problematic. Early research on app use and health has focused only on sexually transmitted infections, for instance, rates of HIV among Grindr users, using Grindr to get people tested for STIs, etc. 
Just last week, Grindr announced that it will start sending users HIV testing reminders and the addresses of local testing sites (on an opt-in basis). In less pleasant news, BuzzFeed revealed on Monday that Grindr has also been sharing the HIV status of its users with third-party companies. (The company later said it would stop sharing the information.)
Though there is this new attention to sexual health, both Grindr and the research community have been silent on mental health. Yet since 2007, more gay men have died from suicidethan from HIV. 
This suggests it’s time we start thinking about Grindr’s health effects more broadly. Other dating apps, like Tinder, for example, are now the subject of early research looking at mental health implications. It’s time to do the same for gay hookup apps. 

Grindr may provide men with some relief from their anxiety and depression. But it’s temporary.

For some users I talked to, the allure of Grindr was not just the rush to feel good. It was to stop feeling bad. Users told me they log on when they feel sad, anxious, or lonely. Grindr can make those feelings go away. The attention and potential for sex distract from painful emotions.
A staggering number of gay men suffer from depression, with some estimates as high as 50 percent. Because gay men’s anxiety and depression often stem from childhood rejection for being gay, messages of affirmation from other gay men are particularly appealing. Unfortunately, these messages are typically only skin-deep: “Hey man, cute pic. Looking to ****?”
A recent survey of 200,000 iPhone users by Time Well Spent, a nonprofit focused on the digital attention crisis, showed that 77 percent of Grindr users felt regret after using the app.

 The users I interviewed told me that when they closed their phones and reflected on the shallow conversations and sexually explicit pictures they sent, they felt more depressed, more anxious, and even more isolated. Some experience overwhelming guilt following a sexual encounter in which no words are spoken. After the orgasm, the partner may walk out the door with little more than a “thanks.” 
And yet they keep coming back for that temporary emotional relief. One user told me that he feels so bad after a hookup that he jumps right back on the app, continuing the cycle until he is so tired he falls asleep. Every once in a while, he deletes the app, but he finds himself downloading it the next time he feels rejected or alone.
“We see patients like this almost every day,” Pachankis told me. “Apps like Grindr are often both a cause and a consequence of gay and bisexual men’s disproportionally poorer mental health. It’s a truly vicious cycle.”
Not all Grindr users are addicted and depressed, of course. Some users I interacted with seem to use Grindr in a healthy, positive way. One man I interviewed met his fiancé there; they are excitedly planning their wedding. Some I spoke with said they use the app for sex but haven’t suffered any negative consequences and have control over their use.

Using Grindr may keep men from finding lasting relationships

Why do so many of these men turn to Grindr to begin with? Perhaps Grindr’s popularity is a sign we haven’t made as much social progress as we think for same-sex relationships. The general population seems comfortable with the idea of gay marriage, but it’s still difficult for a gay man to find a partner.
One 23-year-old user told me that the only places he can find gay men are clubs and Grindr, and both are hypersexualized. The cultures of both intimidate him. According to Pachankis, gay culture is often “status-focused, competitive, hierarchical, and exclusionary.” He explains that these traits are common among men generally, but in the gay community, they become amplified in a group that “both socializes and sexualizes together.” 
The 23-year-old is afraid of rejection, and Grindr shields him from the pain of in-person turndowns. “My framework now is sex first. I don’t know how to date people in person.” 
His relationships, he says, start with casual sex on Grindr. They first meet at 2 am for a hookup. He’ll try to schedule the next sex date a little earlier, maybe 11 pm. Then the next step may be drinks.  
But this sex-first approach hasn’t led to lasting relationships for the men I interviewed and is affecting their self-worth and identity. “My self-esteem now is all about my sexual ability,” the 23-year-old said. “I don’t feel confident about myself as a partner in any other way.” 
Another user told me he downloaded the app hoping to find a husband. Now he says that when he and a boyfriend (he’s gone through several) fight, his natural response is to open Grindr to “find an alternative” instead of working through problems. He can’t maintain a monogamous relationship because he is constantly cheating.

There may be ways to treat men with problematic Grindr use

The mental health professionals I spoke to are seeing problematic Grindr use in their clinics. And there is little published guidance on how to help those who are struggling.
Doctors I spoke to say the best available tools for treating problematic Grindr use are the ones they use in general sex addiction treatment. Citalopram, a common antidepressant, was shown in one small study to be helpful with sex addiction in gay men. Naltrexone, a drug commonly used for other compulsive behaviors, may work as well. 
For more extreme cases, patients could request hormonal implants that turn off testosterone signaling, making sexual cravings less intense. However, even these treatments have modest empirical support at best, and none have been studied for hookup app use specifically.
Dr. Shane Kraus, the director of the behavioral addictions clinic at Bedford Veterans Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, says the most promising treatment for problematic Grindr use is likely talk therapy techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can teach patients to engage in other behaviors that are more productive (though often more difficult and time-consuming than Grindr) to help them feel loved or supported. 
Another psychotherapeutic technique known as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help teach patients how to better tolerate the feeling of being alone without logging on to Grindr.
The dynamics of Grindr, though, are complicated, and it can take time to work through all the angles. Are you self-soothing anxiety? Are you addicted to sex? Have you lost interest in your monogamous relationship? Do you think you can’t attain love, so you’re settling for hookups? Did your parents tell you being gay is wrong and you’re searching for acceptance? Ultimately, Kraus explains that therapy can help clarify these kinds of thoughts and feelings, and lead to insights that bring about a healthy change.
He also believes it’s only a matter of time before states and the federal government sponsor research exploring Grindr use and mental health. Grindr did not respond to our request for comment on this piece. But if future data supports what I suspect about the link between Grindr and mental health problems, even small interventions like advertising mental health resources on the app may help to address these users’ suffering.
As we continue to fight to bring gay relationships into the mainstream, we need to keep an eye on Grindr and how it both reflects and affects gay culture. The bathhouse is still around. It’s now open 24/7, accessible from your living room.
By Jack Turban a physician and medical writer at Harvard Medical School, where he researches gender and sexuality. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, and Psychology Today, among other publications. Find him on Twitter at @jack_turban.

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