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What should you know about men's health?

Five health symptoms men should not ignore: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/men1839/Pages/Menshealthweek.aspx

British men are paying the price for neglecting their health: more than 100,000 men a year die prematurely.

On average, men go to their GP half as often as women. It's important to be aware of changes to your health, and to see your GP immediately if you notice something's not right.


Other than general health matters, specific men's health issues fall broadly into two areas:

  • Sexual health/reproductive issues
  • Certain types of cancer

Men can also experience difficulty with weight loss - particularly as they tend to have trouble opening up about weight issues.


Sexual health/reproductive issues

This can cover a range of areas, from impotence, erectile disfunction, genital health and increasing the chances of your partner conceiving.

See here for more information.


Cancer

Two types of cancer that occur only in men are testicular and prostate cancer.

Testicular cancer

Around half of all cases of testicular cancer occur in men aged under 35 but testicular cancer rarely occurs before puberty. It is the most common cancer in men aged 15-44 years. There are about 2,000 new cases in the UK each year.

Almost all testicular cancers are classed as germ cell cancers, as the cells which become cancerous are those involved with making sperm.

What causes testicular cancer?

In many cases, testicular cancer develops for no apparent reason. However, certain risk factors increase the chance that testicular cancer may develop. These include:

  • Geography. The highest rate of testicular cancer occurs in white men in northern Europe. So, some genetic or environmental factor may be involved. 'Genetic' means that the condition is passed on through families through special codes inside cells called genes.
  • Family history. Brothers and sons of affected men have an increased risk.
  • Undescended testicles (testes). The testes develop in the tummy (abdomen) and usually move down (descend) into the scrotum before birth. Some babies are born with one or both testes which have not come down into the scrotum. This can be fixed by a small operation. There is a large increased risk in men who have not had their undescended testis surgically fixed. There is still some increased risk in men who had an undescended testis fixed when they were a baby.
  • Infertility. Infertile men with an abnormal sperm count have a slight increased risk.
  • Klinefelter's syndrome.
  • HIV/AIDS. Men who have HIV or AIDS have an increased risk.

Prostate cancer

The prostate gland is only found in men, just beneath the bladder and its function is to produce fluid which protects and enriches sperm.

The prostate often gets bigger gradually after the age of about 50, so that by the age of 70, about eight in 10 men have an enlarged prostate. It is common for older men to have urinary symptoms caused by a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. Some men also develop prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Each year, about 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK. It affects about 1 in 8 men in the UK at some point in their life. Most cases develop in men over the age of 65.

Prostate cancer is different to most other cancers because small areas of cancer within the prostate are actually very common, especially in older men. These may not grow or cause any problems for many years (if at all).

Although the exact cause is unclear, certain risk factors increase the chance that prostate cancer may develop. These include:

  • Ageing. Most cases occur in older men.
  • Family history and genetic factors. If your father or brother had prostate cancer at a relatively early age (before they were 60) then you have an increased risk. Also, if the type of breast cancer which is linked to a faulty gene runs in your female relatives, then you are at increased risk of prostate cancer. These factors point towards a faulty gene which may occur in some men.
  • Ethnic group. Prostate cancer is more common in African-Caribbean men and less common in Asian men.
  • Diet is possibly a risk factor. As with other cancers, a diet high in fats and low in fruit and vegetables may increase the risk.
  • Exposure to the metal cadmium may be a risk.

Weight loss

See the section on weight management, particularly on Weight Watchers referral.

What can you do to help yourself?

As with a large number of health issues, a healthy diet and an active lifestyle provide a good foundation to help minimise the risk of developing certain conditions or diseases.

With sexual health matters, taking precautions such as contraception will help to reduce the risk of catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which have the potential of causing long-term damage and infertility.


Impotence/erectile dysfunction

For issues around impotence, see your GP if you have experienced this for a number of weeks. It may be a sign of an underlying problem.

Impotence is a common condition for men over the age of 40. Your GP may be able to refer you for psychological counselling, or prescribe medication. It may be that the condition has been caused by medication that you are already taking - in which case your doctor should be able to identify that.


Cancer

For both testicular and prostate cancer it is important to know what symptoms to look for. See here for testicular cancer and here for prostate.

With testicular cancer it is important for men to check themselves regularly to see if there are any lumps of if they notice anything unusual. As with all cancers, if you recognise any of the known symptoms in yourself, you should contact your GP immediately.


Screening

If you are invited at any point in your life to attend medical screening, it is important that you attend. An invitation does not mean that you anybody suspects you have a particular condition and screening is a good and effective way at early identification of many conditions, many of which can be incredibly harmful and even fatal if left untreated or diagnosed late.

Where can you go for help?

For sexual health matters:

Sexual Health Clinic at Aldershot Centre for Health

Tel: 0300 300 2016

Address: Entrance Level, Hospital Hill, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 1AY

Website: www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk

Contact details for local sources of help.

See here for help in addressing any lifestyle issues around your general health and wellbeing.


Get Active Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Your one-stop shop for sports and physical activities in Hampshire & IOW. Find a sport or activity that can help you be more active. Type in your postcode and off you go.

http://www.getactivehampshireiow.co.uk/


NHS Health Check

is a free check-up of your overall health. It can tell you whether you're at higher risk of getting certain health problems, such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, kidney disease. If you're over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for.

If you're aged 40-74 and do not have one of these long term conditions, you should have an NHS Health Check every five years. You should receive an invitation from your GP surgery but you can book an appointment for your over-40 NHS health check before you receive a letter. An NHS Health Check helps find ways to lower the risk of you getting one of these conditions.

Click here for more information.


For sexual health matters:

Sexual Health Clinic at Aldershot Centre for Health

Tel: 0300 300 2016

Address: Entrance Level, Hospital Hill, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 1AY

Website: www.letstalkaboutit.nhs.uk

Making Connections

A social prescription service for adults registered with GP practices in North East Hampshire and Farnham:

  • providing around three months' support from a Making Connections Co-ordinator to help you with your personal health and wellbeing goals
  • supporting you with finding local activities and services to keep you physically active and socially connected

For more information on the programme, visit: http://www.hartvolaction.org.uk/services-for-residents/making-connections/

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