Special focus: Men’s Health Month
June is Men’s Health Month, with the focus on heightening the public’s awareness of the many preventable health problems that affect men and boys.
Many women will agree that while men are likely to notice when their car doesn’t perform properly, they don’t always listen when their body tells them it’s time to see a doctor. That’s why Men’s Health Month is a call to action for all men and their families to take ownership of their health and well-being.
This week, we’re looking at male-specific health problems, and what to look out for to recognise other health problems.
PART 1: MALE-SPECIFIC HEALTH PROBLEMS
Cancer of the testicle is the most common cancer in men ages 15 to 35. Although it cannot be prevented, thanks to improved treatments and diagnostics, testicular cancer, like prostate cancer, has a very high cure rate if caught early.
Testosterone is the most important male hormone. Almost five million men suffer from testosterone deficiency, which, if left untreated for too long, is linked with long-term health problems such as loss of muscle mass, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, inability to concentrate, and even osteoporosis.
This walnut-sized gland produces semen and naturally enlarges as men age. Potential problems include prostatitis and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) which can cause swelling and painful or difficult urination.
Prostate cancer is a concern for men 50 and older, or high-risk men 40 and older (these include African men and men with a family history of prostate cancer), all of whom should be screened yearly. Caught early, this disease is often treatable.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection sufficient for a man’s sexual needs or the needs of his partner. Although ED becomes more common with age, men of any age can suffer from it – and most briefly do at some point in their life. Most of the time, erectile problems are caused by an underlying health problem, such as diabetes, clogged arteries, or high blood pressure.
RECOGNISING OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS
Male-only conditions aren’t the only ones men suffer from. They die at higher rates than women from stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Here are a few warning signs you should look out for:
Changes in bowel or bladder habits. Getting up repeatedly at night to go to the bathroom can be an indication of prostate or bladder problems. And blood in the urine is a common indicator of kidney problems.
Persistent backaches, changes in the colour of urine or stool, obvious changes in warts or moles, unusual lumps, recurrent chest pains or headaches, bleeding that will not stop, a nagging cough, unexplained weight loss, and extreme fatigue can all be symptoms of other serious health problems.
Depression. Men are reluctant to ask for help and may try to hide their depression, so look out for symptoms like acting overly anxious, having trouble sleeping, complaining of feeling sad or “empty” or helpless, engaging in unusually risky or reckless behaviour, or losing interest in hobbies or other pleasurable activities (including sex).
Osteoporosis. Although usually considered a women’s disease, osteoporosis affects men too, and is generally under-diagnosed in men. This disease, which causes the bones to become fragile and more likely to break, can lead to permanent disability or death.
Breast Cancer. Men have breast tissue too, and 400 men die of breast cancer each year. Men often confuse their symptoms with a sports or work injury, and because they are less likely to recognize or report symptoms, they are usually diagnosed only after the disease has spread.
Look out for next week’s newsletter, where we’ll focus on regular medical check-ups and which tests men should get according to their age.