Men's Health Bulletin

A new form of prescription birth control that looks like a ring — called Nuvaring — may spice up your sex life.

The flexible plastic rings are inserted into the vagina and release lower levels of birth-control hormone than the Pill, so they help reduce mood swings.

Men like the ring because they can feel it during sex, says Frans Roumen, M.D., who conducted a yearlong Dutch study on the product.

The ring can be removed for up to 3 hours without losing its reported 99 percent effectiveness.

The first wave of rings should be available by the end of the year.

Air Supply

Shoes with air cells in the soles are supposed to protect your ankles when you come down from a shot on the court. But a new study states otherwise

An Australian study says that basketball players who wear shoes with air cells in the heels are 4.3 times more likely to injure their ankles.

"Air cells appear to decrease heel stability, making your ankles more vulnerable to injury," says Gaylene McKay, a physical therapist, who conducted the study.

If you're prone to sprains, using preformed, pull-on ankle braces may counteract the instability.

Try a New Position

According to a 2-year study at the University of California at San Francisco, regularly sleeping on the same side of your body makes you much more likely to develop kidney stones.

Of 93 patients with recurring kidney stones, 75 percent developed them only in the kidney on the side they slept on.

"Sleeping in the same position each night appears to alter bloodflow to that kidney, impairing the organ's ability to clear itself of stone-forming crystals and deposits," says Marshall Stoller, M.D., a UCSF professor of urology.

Stiff Medication

Blood-pressure drugs are good for your heart, but they're murder on your love life.

If your libido hasn't been the same since you started a new BP medication, ask your doctor about losartan (Cozaar).

In a trial of 82 men with erectile problems, doctors found that 50 to 100 milligrams of losartan a day not only helped men control their blood pressure, but also improved their sex lives — reducing impotence and boosting sex drive.

Got Blood?

A new manmade blood derived from the blood of cows may soon take the place of donated blood in some U.S. hospitals.

The blood substitute, called Hemopure, is made from hemoglobin that's extracted from the red blood cells of cattle and then filtered and purified.

In addition to having a longer shelf life than donated blood, Hemopure is compatible with all human blood types and is capable of moving oxygen more efficiently than human blood can.

The product is currently licensed for human use only in South Africa, but its manufacturer plans to file for FDA approval in the United States by the end of the year.

An Alternative to Radical Prostatectomy

A new study from the journal The Oncologist suggests that a combination of drugs called a triple androgen blockade may be an even better treatment than surgery for prostate cancer.

The drugs — which are typically used if prostate surgery fails — work by blocking production of testosterone, the hormone fuel that allows prostate-cancer cells to grow.

In a 13-month trial of 110 men with prostate cancer, androgen-blockade therapy significantly lowered the men's levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and kept them low throughout a three-year follow-up.

"Hormone therapy stops the growth of tumors, without the risk of surgical side effects such as impotence or incontinence," says Robert Leibowitz, M.D., the study author. Side effects of the controversial treatment include weight gain, lack of energy, and temporary loss of libido.

Tough Break

One wrong move during a game of pickup football or on a flight of stairs is all it takes to break your collarbone.

The injury accounts for about 15 percent of all bone breaks — and until recently, the only method of treatment doctors had was putting your arm in a sling.

Now, a new procedure not only allows broken collarbones to heal more quickly, but also ensures that they heal correctly — reducing risk of back pain and disability.

"By inserting a screw through a slit in the shoulder and into the broken pieces of bone, we can hold fractures together until they heal properly," says Carl Basamania, M.D., the Duke University surgeon who developed the technique.

A Vine Idea

When it comes to grapes, the sum is apparently greater than the parts, according to John D. Folts, Ph.D., a University of Wisconsin heart specialist.

"We compared grape-seed extract and grape-skin extract, and neither supplement appeared to provide any protection against the causes of heart disease," he says.

The bottom line: Drinking two glasses of red wine or purple grape juice a day is better for your heart than taking a grape supplement.