As it stands, health and wellness are still topics that are largely overlooked by the male population. Statistically, men are 32% less likely than women to visit a GP and are living shorter lives due to lifestyle choices that negatively affect both their physical and mental wellbeing.
Whether you’re a son, brother, father, husband, friend, colleague or all six, your health matters! How long you live matters and the quality of your life matters to those who know you, love you and depend on you. Sometimes, it’s easy to take the status of your health for granted, but when you remember all the beautiful reasons and people worth being healthy for, (most especially yourself!) it can help to bring you back on the right track.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the main health risk factors that men face, as well as how to combat and prevent these challenges and change the staggering statistics by becoming more health conscious and proactive.
Some of the main physical health issues that men face are heart disease, testicular cancer, prostate cancer and diabetes.
In the UK, 1 in 7 men die from heart disease, compared to 1 in 11 women. There are four main medical risk factors that increase your risk of having strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. These include:
When it comes to protecting your heart, the best possible way for you to reduce these risks is by making positive lifestyle choices. That means taking a much closer look at your diet which affects your blood sugar levels and cholesterol (fatty substances in the blood vessels) and adopting a diet that is low in saturated fats. Other lifestyle choices include seeking help to quit smoking, lessen your alcohol intake, increase physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.
If you ever experience chest pain, breathlessness on exertion or heart palpitations, you should seek medical help. It only takes a clinical assessment and an ultrasound or CT scan to check whether your symptoms are related to heart disease.
Testicular cancer can affect men, transgender women and anyone assigned male at birth. It is most common between the ages of 15 and 49 years of age, however it's important to check your testicles on a regular basis regardless of your age. Knowing what is normal for you will help to spot when something feels and appears abnormal. Testicular cancer is usually curable and is much easier to treat when caught early.
The most typical symptoms of testicular cancer are a painless lump or swelling in one of the testicles or any change in shape or texture. Another symptom you could experience is a dull ache/pain or heaviness in the scrotum
If you ever experience any of the symptoms above, you should seek medical advice immediately. It might not be cancer, but it’s important to find out and it could put your mind at rest.
Book an appointment with your GP if you notice anything out of the ordinary. You can discuss your concerns and the doctor will undertake an initial examination. If you prefer, you can visit your local sexual health clinic.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men across the UK. This type of cancer generally develops quite slowly, meaning there may be no signs or detectable symptoms for years. These symptoms mostly only become evident when the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra. If this happens, you can expect to experience the following symptoms:
It’s important not to ignore these signs. Once again, it might not be prostate cancer, but it’s worth visiting your GP to examine.
Diabetes is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Considering the fact that many people in the UK are still undiagnosed, the number of people living with this condition is over 4 million. There are two types of diabetes:
Statistically, men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women.
Again, tips for prevention include a healthy diet which includes more fruit and vegetables, drinking less alcohol, drinking more water, prioritising daily activity and getting enough sleep. It’s also important to get regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks.
Stress, anxiety and depression can affect us all. Anyone with a mind can experience dips in their mental health, but it’s how we deal with those dips that matters. In the UK, 75% of suicide cases are men, so we know that men experience high levels of mental distress. However, only 33% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men. This shows that men are reluctant to seek professional help or find it more difficult to do than women.
If you ever experience bouts of high stress, anxiety or depression, professional and medical help is the best pathway out. There are many kinds of talking therapies, coaching, psychologists, medications and even self-practices to explore, all of which work for millions of other people every day. It can feel daunting or awkward, but most people find that speaking to their GP and getting professional support can make a profound difference.
Now that you know about some of the main health risks that affect men, you can take the next step by booking your check-ups and adjusting your lifestyle to become a proactive participant in the state of your wellbeing.
Addressing your health can be scary, but avoiding it altogether could be much worse. Below are some links to resources for support if you are experiencing any symptoms, feel you may have a condition, or would just like to take the first step in arranging a general check-up.