Are you looking after your mental and physical health? If you're a man, the answer to that question is much more likely to be no. Research shows that 40% of men don’t talk about their mental health. And when it comes to physical mens’ health issues, it doesn't get much better. A recent study found that 20% of men wouldn't follow up with a doctor if they had a worrying symptom.
When you consider that suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 45, and prostate cancer (which has a far better outlook when treated early), is the most common cancer in UK men, these statistics are even more of a concern. It’s never been more important to get the conversation started around men's wellbeing. So, this Men’s Health Month we're shining a light on the issues men need to know about. From the symptoms to look out for, to tips on how to manage them.
Here's your guide to the top 5 mens’ health risks to keep an eye on, for yourself, or the men in your life:
1. Prostate cancer
Put this at the top of your mens’ health checklist, because 1 in 7 UK men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. Recent research by GPs showed 28% of men knew nothing about prostate cancer – in fact, many were better informed about breast cancer in women! Early detection and treatment vastly improve outcomes, so it’s crucial to recognise the symptoms you need to be aware of, and follow up on them.
The prostate is the gland between the penis and the bladder. The first warning sign of prostate cancer is usually changes in going to the loo. You might find it hard to go, pee more often, or feel like your bladder is never completely empty.
If you’re over 50, these symptoms might just be a side effect of the normal enlargement of the prostate that happens as you get older. But it’s definitely worth getting any of these potential red flags checked out by your GP – don’t be one of the 20% that avoid the Doctor!
2. Heart health
Another critical mens’ health issue is heart disease – the leading cause of death in men over 50. Men are much more likely to develop cardiovascular problems than women. They can be also less aware of the symptoms of heart problems, like breathlessness, palpitations, or heaviness in the chest. And are less likely to see medical advice if they do experience them.
You can help to safeguard your heart health by reducing lifestyle-related risks. Don’t smoke, and make sure your diet is low in saturated fats and processed meat like bacon and sausage – bye full English! Ditch the salt – you shouldn’t have more than 6g (1 teaspoon) a day. Instead, eat plenty of lean protein, fruit and vegetables, and wholegrains.
Aim for 150 minutes of cardio exercise a week to work your heart muscle and make it stronger. Try and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. This can slash your risk of heart disease by a whopping 33%.
You could also try heart health-boosting supplements like our CoQ10 Plus patch. This patch can help protect your heart from damage from harmful molecules, and prevent heart failure. And the Omega-3 Plus patch – Omega-3 helps lower triglycerides, a type of fat that can lead to heart disease and stroke.
3. Alcohol intake
A pint after work on a Friday, or a glass of red with your Sunday lunch is unlikely to do you any serious harm. But drinking more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol (6 pints of beer, or 6 glasses of wine) a week has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
While excessive alcohol consumption affects everyone, it’s more of mens’ health concern. This is because almost 10% more men than women drink alcohol, and men are also more likely to binge drink.
If you are drinking more than you should, try setting yourself a drink limit each day. Let supportive friends and family know what it is, so they can help you stick to it. Ordering smaller drinks, like half a pint, can help. You could also try switching your usual tipple for an alternative with a lower alcohol content.
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4. Impotence: the mens’ health problem no one wants to talk about
Impotence, or the inability to produce or maintain an erection, is very common, affecting 50% of men over 40. But there’s still a big taboo around discussing this mens’ health issue.
For lots of men, it can be a temporary problem caused by stress, not enough sleep, or even drinking too much. Another reason to cut back on the booze! But it can also be a sign of heart disease or diabetes. So it’s essential to talk to a Dr about impotence if you’re experiencing it, even if it feels embarrassing.
Your Doctor will have spoken to hundreds (if not thousands) of men in the same position. Once you’ve got the root of the problem, they might suggest some lifestyle changes. Urologists recommend eating fruits rich in flavanones – like strawberries, apples, and blueberries – to lower your risk of erectile dysfunction.
You could also try our Modern Man patch. The natural alternative to those little blue pills, it’s packed with aphrodisiac herbs like asian ginseng and horny goat weed, tried and tested in treating impotence. You’ll be back to your best in no time.
5. Mental health:
Poor mental health can have a devastating effect on mens' health, trigger physical illness, and damage relationships. Yet many men find it hard to open up about their feelings and might feel like they need to downplay their emotions. Which is perhaps why only 9% of men seek help and get treatment for depression.
Feeling angry and agitated all the time, reckless behaviour (like driving too fast, or drinking too much), and working obsessively to try and block things out, could all be signs you’re not OK. You might feel overwhelmingly sad or hopeless, stop wanting to spend time with family or friends, or feel anxious about things you didn’t worry about before. Maybe you just want to have a duvet day, every day…
Depression and anxiety can present in lots of different ways. And it's totally normal to have ups and downs emotionally. But if you feel like your mood is constantly low, and you’re struggling with daily life, it’s important to ask for help, either from a trusted friend, family member, or your GP. There are lots of treatments available, from talking therapy to medication. And regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and taking the right supplements (see our blog on ways to look after your mental health here) can also be helpful.
Charities like Movember have loads of brilliant advice on men’s mental health. And attitudes ARE changing. Recently, everyone from Prince Harry, to Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, has talked publicly about their mental health struggles. Helping men to realise how important it is to share problems. If 'The Rock' says it’s good to talk about your feelings, you know it's not weak or unmanly to 'fess up when you're not ok.