Self Care Is Not Selfish: Dr Lalitha Reddy

In an exclusive conversation with BW Businessworld, Dr Lalitha Reddy, Founder & Director, Wholesome Medtech, talks about the company's brand 'ForMen' that caters to men’s health and wellness. Excerpts:

ForMen is amongst the few brands that target male well-being from nutrition to skincare to de-stress to hangover to sexual wellness. Do you feel there is a need to work in this area by other beauty and wellness brands?

The reason that ForMen is focussed only on men’s health and wellness, is because there is an urgent need to address men’s wellness issues. Just like the iceberg, what we see and discuss in society about men’s health is only the visible tip. There is a huge hidden, invisible, unaddressed problem of health issues which need to be tackled in order to avoid future mental and physical issues. Men usually tend to ignore mental and physical problems, unless they are severe enough to warrant a hospital visit. Most men are also reluctant to open up and discuss health issues troubling them, especially those related to performance, fertility, stress and mental health. There is a huge need for guidance and effective products that help men overcome these issues and regain their quality of life. We wish to contribute significantly in this area of men’s wellness and be a part of their journey of health and happiness.

Body positivity, being your true self and loving yourself - these are the concepts that are now being introduced slowly in the society. Why is there lack of male body positivity in the industry?

Males have always been identified as providers and strong individuals in our society and importance was given to men who provided for their family and protected them. Men were portrayed as strong people who don’t have much of a feeling. Women were even more harshly judged. Lately in recent years, people, especially the younger generations have tried to break out of stereotypes and create awareness about body positivity. The openness to talk about our mental and physical health issues is being encouraged. This is a move in the correct direction and myths like ‘Mard ko dard nahi hota’ etc should be busted as many men are silently suffering without seeking help. Modern lifestyles have led to an increase in many lifestyle issues of men like – stress related illness, sleep issues, performance issues, reduced male fertility, anxiety, depression, dietary deficiencies leading to mental and physical illnesses etc. We need healthy and happy people, not an unhappy and silently sick community.

In general, throughout the country there are taboos around sex related issues but still gynecologists and obstetricians are easily available but when it comes to male population such resources are scares. Why do you think is it so?

Women are more plugged into health care and seeing doctors from an early age, either for menstrual issues or for pregnancy and go on to continue seeking help and advice for most issues.

Men on the other hand do not have this connection and tend to avoid seeing doctors. Men are also reluctant to discuss their mental and physical issues. Multiple surveys have revealed that the top three reasons for men to avoid seeking medical advice and help are:

Macho attitude – Macho attitude that is deep rooted in our society. The need for men to always be strong, is proving detrimental to men’s health. It has been observed that there is more incidence of suicides, heat problems, stroke etc in men, probably because they ignore it till it gets severe enough to visit a hospital.

Fear of diagnosis – Many men have confided that the fear of being diagnosed with a problem, prevents them from seeking medical help.

Do not like examinations, tests etc – Many men said that they do not like to be examined or undergo various tests, hence avoid visiting Doctors.

However, recently, with more men opening up to discussion and seeking help, the focus on men’s health and andrology has been increasing and stigma around sexual & mental wellness is slowly beginning to fade away. Urologists, andrologists, psychologists, trained sexologists are all available for men to discuss and get guidance on their sexual and reproductive issues. Doctor-led online websites are also available for a discreet doctor consultation and a host of effective, safe products.

Although there is a huge leap in sensitization of youth around making the concept of self care and being emotional, personal grooming - gender neutral and not specifically about women, still there is a long way to go. How are companies like yours planning to make a difference?

We plan to bring about awareness about self care, mental health, wellness and preventive health. We will work towards promoting the concept – ‘Self care is not selfish’ for men. Our efforts will be focussed on reducing the stigma around talking about mental health issues, sexual and reproductive health issues. Through our website, men can avail doctor consultations in a very discreet and confidential manner, as well as have access to wellness products that are effective and safe and contribute towards increasing their quality of life.

We have drawn out an yearly plan, with various activities, all aimed towards educating men about health issues and encouraging them to seek timely help when needed. Prevention is our goal, preventive health is our passion and wellness for all is our vision.


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