Why we need to talk about men’s health
Conversations around men’s health are changing. Gone are the days where men’s health meant prostate problems and erectile dysfunction. I believe we should focus on all aspects of male health including ageing, testosterone deficiency (similar to menopause in women), cardiovascular disease, nutrition and wellness, mental health and much more. More over, men’s health is about changing attitudes towards how we approach our lives, interact with our loved ones, remain productive at work, and energetic at home. Men’s health is about preventing the onset of illness, maximising our well-being life, and not accepting age as an inevitable decline in quality of life.
Men need testosterone for many aspects of healthy living. Not only is it the male sex hormone, responsible for facial hair, muscle mass, and sexual function, it also provides men with energy, motivation and protects them from heart disease and brittle bones. For a long time testosterone deficiency has been seen as a normal part of the ageing process. However, it is now estimated that it could affect more than 1 in 10 men over 50. Acknowledging this as an issue is the first step, with testing and treatment easy and relatively non-invasive.
Prostate problems are extremely common in men over 40, while prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. Currently there is no national screening plan in place for detecting this disease as tests we have are not sensitive or specific enough. However, much can be done to reduce the risk of missing prostate cancer, and also improving treatment options and survival by catching it early. It is therefore vital that men begin to feel more able to discuss such issues.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is estimated to affect one-third of all men at some point in their lives, but for many doctors and patients, it can still be a taboo subject. In addition to the relationship problems, stress, and depression having ED can cause, the condition itself is often an underlying marker of other, more serious medical conditions. Treatment for ED is far more complex than little blue pills, and I believe by making patients feel at ease and giving them the time it need not be the difficult topic it can be for so many.
Prevention is better than cure. Health screening is designed to prevent ill health and to detect disease early enough so that it can be treated properly, giving you a better quality of life. Over the age of 30 men start to decrease their natural testosterone production, become subject to the effects of heart disease, and can start to develop risk factors for many other illnesses. We are encouraged to service our cars regularly, and we should the same about our bodies and minds too. It is much easier to manage or correct a small problem before it becomes a big which may be irreversible.