The statistics on men’s health make for sobering reading. On average, men’s lives are shorter than women’s, and their last 11 years will be spent in ill health – often from preventable ailments. Compared to women, they are also more likely to die due to unintentional injury or suicide. Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women (that’s five men a day, on average).
What’s behind these figures? One theory is that men are more reluctant to visit the doctor – and are also less likely to be honest when they do – because of cultural ideas around masculinity, strength, resilience and self-reliance. When we think about common phrases like “man up”, it’s easy to understand how this may be the case.
Initiatives like Men’s Health Week (10-16 June 2019) aim to change the conversation around men’s health and improve outcomes for men. And when men improve their health, the lives of their families improve too.
How men can take control of their health
See your GP regularly
Go for a checkup and talk to your doctor about your family history, your medical history and your lifestyle. Diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers can often be picked up and treated in their early stages if you go for regular health checks.
Visiting your GP also allows you to raise other concerns, such as your mental health, alcohol or drug issues, injuries, sexual health or relationship issues.
Pay attention to your own body. Regular things you can check at home include:
- Skin: If you spot anything unusual, you know what to do. As soon as possible.
- Teeth: Keep them clean, limit the amount of sugar in your diet and see your dentist at least once a year.
- Testicles: From puberty onwards, guys should be checking themselves for unusual thickenings or lumps.
Ask your doctor which tests you need and when
There are a number of illnesses and serious conditions that are common as men age. When you see your doctor, they’ll be able to talk you through your risk factors, and when to have certain tests. These are some of the tests you can discuss:
- Heart health checks. These can include blood pressure, blood and obesity tests, as well as electrocardiograms (ECG) to detect heart abnormalities.
- Diabetes checks
- Prostate cancer screening
- Bowel cancer screening. Up to 90 percent of bowel cancers can be treated successfully if they’re detected early. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) sends you a free kit in the mail if you’re between 50 and 74 years old, but if you have a family history your doctor may suggest testing even earlier than that.
- Eye tests. This can include checking for serious conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
- Bone density checks. Because osteoporosis doesn’t only affect women.
At Family Doctors Plus, we’re here to help. Call or book online to make an appointment and take control of your health.