Men don’t visit the GP nearly as often as women and this means that some warning signs of health problems don’t get picked up as quickly as they might. Added to this, we tend to read less about the kinds of health issue which may impact on us – with less male-focussed problem pages and advice columns in the magazines and newspapers we read. So as often as not we pick up on stuff more by chance than because we have actively sought it out.
Around 100,000 men a year die prematurely in the UK – and if we kept a better eye on ourselves, didn’t ignore warning signs and kept up to date on what to watch out for we could help ourselves reduce the chance of being one of that 100,000.
So here are five things to keep an eye on and book in to see your GP if you notice something doesn’t seem right.
If you find a visit to the loo a problem, it could mean your prostate is enlarged and pressing on the tube that carries urine from the bladder. It is well worth checking to see if this is a sign of prostate disease, including cancer. Why? Well prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men with over 30,000 of us diagnosed with it every year. Early diagnosis makes a huge difference for treatment and, with the prostate gland playing a crucial role in your sex life, it really is better to get the visit to the doctor sorted sooner rather than later. Other symptoms include waking up frequently in the night to pee, and pain or burning when you take a leak.
Click on these links for more information about your prostate and what can go wrong with it, a video on prostate cancer and a chance to read about prostate cancer, including symptoms and treatment. You can also show your support by registering for the March for Men event on 18th June at Roundhay Park, Leeds
Like it or lump it
The most common cancer in men aged 20 to 35 is testicular cancer, with almost 2,000 men diagnosed each year in the UK. Like most illnesses, treatment for testicular cancer is much more effective if diagnosed early. Take a moment when you’re having a shower or bath to check all is as it should be as although most testicular lumps aren’t cancer, it is essential to have any abnormalities checked. If you notice a lump or abnormality in your testicles, see your GP.
This isn’t about the furry kind of mole. This is the lumps and bumps we get on our skin.
To reduce the chance you have a cancerous mole check them regularly and look out for changes in colour or shape, or if they start bleeding. Most changes aren’t harmful and just mean there’s a non-cancerous pigment cell increase in the skin. If a mole looks unusual or becomes itchy book in with your GP to have it checked and removed if necessary.
Down, down, deeper and down
Men are much more likely to die by suicide – and it is the biggest cause of death in British adults under 50. Of course most people with depression don’t kill themselves – but by its very nature, depression leaves you feeling down, negative and you lose interest in things you’d normally enjoy.
Depression is a very real illness with very real effects on your social and family life, as well as work. There’s a range of treatment and support including self-help, talking therapies and drugs.
As well as looking after yourself, we all have a chance to look after the people we know too – colleagues, friends, family. The council’s chief executive, Tom Riordan, has spoken up for the importance of treating mental health seriously and Leeds has a good record of trying to reduce stigmas and getting help in place. When times are tough – whether economically, with work pressures and the number of issues we all face as we go through life – then we need to take some time for ourselves and look after our mental health as much as our physical health.
Most guys (half of us over 40) get problems with keeping an erection at some point and if your erection problems last for several weeks, a trip to the GP is called for. Quite often lifestyle changes can sort things out – whether it be losing a few pounds or generally getting healthier. You might end up with a medicinal helping hand (so to speak) such as sildenafil – popularly known as Viagra.
When the GP checks your general health they may find your impotence is a sign of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. Find out more about impotence and don’t just keep a stiff upper lip.
There’s plenty of other advice, support and information available to help us keep an eye on our health. One You Leeds links to lots of advice and NHS health checks, information about bowel cancer screening and the ‘got a cough, get a check’ campaign are well worth checking out.
Remember. Every year, we lose more men prematurely than a full house at Wembley. We can do better… Let’s look after ourselves a bit better.