Centuries of stories about dashing princes and rugged cowboys have meant that men’s health issues get little discussion – it seems blokes are supposed to be too strong to need help. However, this macho myth is probably why they’re much less likely to visit a doctor when they need to, according to the Journal Of Men’s Studies, and often don’t seek help until a disease has progressed, says research at Middlesex University. Plus, when it comes to taboo topics – from ‘failure to launch’ to incontinence – men tend to slam shut harder than a Tube train door. So, grab the bloke in your life, sit him down and get him to read these health manifestos that’ll not only sort out his manhood, but potentially save his life…
Up to half of men under age 50 could be struggling with erectile dysfunction, according to a study last year. Yet very few are willing to ’fess up to issues with their cherished organ. Shame is a powerful deterrent, unfortunately. Yet the irony is, there are possible fixes to this common problem, whether it’s lifestyle changes, getting enough sleep and not drinking too much alcohol. If you find that it is more recurrent, it could be due to an underlying medical condition. So seeing your GP and opening up may result in getting it up next time you need to. A no-brainer, surely?
As 50% of men are affected by hair loss by the age of 50, it’s clearly a very masculine trait. Yet, sadly, fear of going bald – phalacrophobia – is a condition that can cause stress and anxiety with hair that falls to the floor. If you’re unable to reconcile yourself to your hair loss, don’t spend your life wearing a hat and not talking about it. There are different types of hair loss so it’s important to see your GP to investigate causes – and if it’s affecting your mental health, they’ll discuss what options are available to you.
Urinary incontinence – leaking pee that you can’t control – isn’t just something that happens to women who bounce too hard on a trampoline after having kids. It’s actually more common in men than you realise – one in four experience it. But it doesn’t mean a lifetime of adult nappies and baggy trousers. Most treatment begins with simple exercises for your pelvic floor (aka Kegel exercises) and lifestyle tweaks, such as limiting caffeine and booze. However, as those trouser wees can indicate something more serious, speak to your GP as soon as it starts happening, as there are different types of incontinence. To help ease discomfort in the meantime, TENA Premium Fit are stylish and discreet pants that you can wear under any kind of trousers. Another bonus? You’ll be helping other blokes: TENA has teamed up with Prostate Cancer UK* and will donate 10p to the charity from every pack sold until January 2021.
Take your prostate, for example (a walnut-sized gland that produces a fluid that creates semen when mixed with the sperm produced by the testicles). Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms, so it’s important to be aware of your risk. If you’re over 50, particularly if your dad or brother has had prostate cancer, or if you’re of African-Caribbean or African descent, call your GP to get yourself checked out. Symptoms of prostate cancer can include: changes in the way you wee, a weak flow and weeing more frequently, especially at night-time (also, see Prostate Cancer UK’s 30-second risk checker). It’s important to remember that these symptoms can indicate a different prostate problem, so do talk to your GP to find out what’s causing them. Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK – and cases have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Remember: the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.
If you’re feeling emotionally heavy, speak to a doctor (who can hopefully refer you to counselling via the NHS) or see a private psychologist. Although statistics show one in eight men has a common mental health problem, it’s believed that the figure could be much higher, but men feel too ashamed to speak out about it. At worst, mental health issues can be a killer – men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has some useful mental health advice. It can be hard to speak up about your emotions, yes, but it could save your life. Don’t forget, talk is more than just cheap: it’s a powerful tool to get you the help you need.
Prostate Cancer UK’s Specialist Nurses are there for anyone concerned or affected by prostate cancer. The Specialist Nurses provide expert support and information and offer a free confidential service. Find out more at prostatecanceruk.org/nurses or call 0800 074 8383**.