Just last week, we have celebrated International Men’s Day. Though it is not as popular as Women’s Day, it can be safely said that Men’s Day is celebrated for a lot of different reasons – and they’re not the usual reasons that’s associated with men.
International Men’s Day is to celebrate the positive impact men give to the world, their families, the people around them, and also to give light to their plight in relation to their sexual and mental health – which admittedly is not talked about most of the time.
Movember, whose vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health shares that “men are dying on average 6 years earlier than women, and for largely preventable reasons”; prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and male suicides.
These are preventable reasons. However, since it is not talked about often, the level of understanding as to how these can be treated or mitigated is lessened. The awareness of people around these is quite poor, that eventually leads to a greater number of deaths.
What is Prostate Cancer and the importance of early detection
Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cell growth happens in the prostate gland (prostate glands are only present in men and its job is to help make semen that carries the sperm). Prostate cancer can be a very serious disease. However, the key to win against this disease is early detection.
According to cancer.org, “About 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. But most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.”
Start talking to your doctor about PSA testing (the test to detect Prostate Cancer) following these guidelines:
- When you are 50 years old.
- Do it earlier – when you are 45 years old – if you are of African or Caribbean descent
- Do it earlier – when you are 45 years old – if you have a family history.
>> Listen to the story of Phil who decided to take a PSA test after hearing about it. Listen to Phil at the Penis Project podcast and why early detection is important to win against prostate cancer.
What is Testicular Cancer and why is it important to check your nuts often?
Just like how women are advised to constantly check their breasts for breast cancer, men are also encouraged to check their balls for testicular cancer.
Any abnormality or difference from the usual – any pain, presence of lump, or change of shape is a sign that you need to see a doctor. It does not indicate cancer at first instance but it’s best to have a doctor assess it.
“Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young Australian men.”
Suicide in Men
The rate of male suicide is alarmingly high: 3 out of 4 suicides in Australia are by men.
Often, genuinely listening to a person can help save a life. However, it is quite difficult to start a conversation and to ascertain whether one is suffering from thoughts that are unhealthy. There are simple steps that can be followed or remembered though in case you encounter someone who somewhat looks or acts differently from his usual self.
Here are four steps from Movember that you can take note of to encourage conversation. Follow these steps and show that you genuinely want to listen.
Start by mentioning something different you have observed like if he’s been clocking into work late, missed deadlines, stares blankly for a long time, or have been missing social events.Simply start by asking: Are you okay? You’ve seemed quite not yourself lately.
When you ask how they are doing, it’s best to show that you are intently listening – no distractions. You don’t need to offer solutions or rocket-science advice. What is important is that you show you’re listening and interested to hear what he has to say.Do not forget to acknowledge their emotion and ask a follow-up question to show your intent to listen and further encourage them to talk.“That feels difficult. How long have you been feeling that way?”
- Encourage action
Guide him to focus on things that he can do easily to improve his wellbeing: Is he getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating properly? Maybe there’s something that’s helped before?Also suggest that he tell other people he trusts how he’s feeling. Talking about it will help make things better especially for him.And if he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest he sees his doctor.
Don’t forget to follow-up and make time to see how they are going. If you can’t be there physically, make time for a call or drop them a message. Do any act that shows them you care.Here’s a very good resource to help you start and keep a conversation without judgment >>
This month may be celebrated as Men’s month and that International Men’s Day has gone by (November 19) but starting conversations and encouraging men to talk about the issues they are experiencing should continue and be done whenever there is a sign that someone is struggling.
To know more about the Movember movement, check it here.
If you are experiencing any health issues and want to talk to a health practitioner, book a call with Melissa here.