Getting Started; Your 101 Guide to Men’s Health
Men have a well-deserved reputation for avoiding the doctor and ignoring unusual symptoms. Sometimes until it’s too late. Unfortunately, it can often take a health scare to get a man in front of a doctor.
This is despite men being just as likely to be affected by chronic diseases, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, stroke, dementia as women. And there are more unique health conditions such as prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, and the andropause.
Habits for a healthy lifestyle
Men can protect health, wellbeing, and lifespan by avoiding damaging behaviours and focusing on positive lifestyle actions:
- Exercise regularly: A combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training for 30 to 45 minutes at least 3 to 4 times a week.
- Eat well: Eat a nutritionally balanced diet. Follow a diet low in fat, with a balanced mix of fruit, vegetables, fibre, protein, lean meats and fish, and complex carbohydrates. Limit processed foods and refined sugars.
- Drink water: Stay hydrated.
- Avoid excessive weight gain or loss.
- Don’t smoke. Limit alcohol intake. Avoid drugs.
- Reduce stress: Get outside. Change your environment. Take a break.
- Get some sleep: Aim for a minimum seven hours’ beauty sleep each night.
- Go for routine health checks and screenings.
Essential screening tests for men
Routine health check-ups and health screening tests (even without pre-existing medical conditions or symptoms) are designed to spot early signs of health problems before they become an issue. Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia all have early warning markers and can significantly compromise quality of life if not picked up early.
Health checks recommended for all adult men include:
- Dental: Get your teeth checked yearly at the minimum.
- Skin cancer: Check moles and skin lesions every few months. See a doctor every two years for a full body check.
- Heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol: High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure (hypertension) can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Testicular cancer: Monthly self-examinations are recommended after puberty. See a doctor for a full examination as soon as you notice a lump or any changes.
Further screening tests are recommended for men over 50 years:
- Prostate cancer: Accounts for high numbers of cancer deaths in older men. Screening includes a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test and DRE (digital rectal examination).
- Bowel cancer: Another leading cause of death in older men. Go for a faecal occult blood test every two years.
- Hearing and eyesight: Hearing loss and eyesight problems become more common after 50 and can affect quality of life.
- Diabetes type 2: Depending on the level of risk a fasting blood sugar test will be recommended every 1 to 3 years.
- Dementia: Screening for cognitive impairment is typically included in an annual health check for all adults from 65 years.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA): Affects more men than women. Males over 65 are offered regular screenings. Doctors decide whether to screen earlier based on medical and family history.
What affects male fertility?
Male fertility problems can be caused by low sperm count, poor quality sperm, or blockages preventing sperm moving through the reproductive tract. Sperm can be vulnerable to lifestyle and environmental factors including raised body temperature, weight gain, exposure to toxins, smoking, heavy alcohol intake and drug use.
Fertility specialists may recommend blood work to check hormone levels and scan for certain infections or a possible genetic cause for infertility. A doctor may request a sperm sample to assess sperm count, shape and movement, and a scrotal ultrasound to check if there are any problems or blockages in the testicles preventing sperm getting into a man’s ejaculate.
What is the male menopause?
Men also experience age-related hormonal decline. The ‘male menopause’ is more a gradual flattening out in testosterone and other hormone levels over a number of years, than the dramatic cliff-plunge of female reproductive hormones during menopause.
Also called the andropause, age-related low testosterone, or late-onset hypogonadism, this period of a man’s life is sometimes described as the ‘midlife crisis’. Still, it brings associated physical and emotional health problems for men in their late 40s and into their 50s:
- Low moods and depression
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fatigue and low energy levels
- Hot flashes or flushes and increased sweating
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increase in body fat
- Dry skin
The symptoms of low testosterone can have a very real impact on everyday life. If you are concerned, speak to a healthcare professional who will assess your symptoms and may recommend hormone levels testing and possible treatment options. Testosterone therapy has its pros and cons, and your doctor will want to weigh up options with you.
Getting started with Men’s Health and Nabta Health
Nabta’s marketplace features products to support men wherever they are in their health journeys.
At-home testosterone level and men’s health tests allow men to screen essential hormone levels in the comfort and privacy of home. While wellness and pampering packages are designed to provide men with that well-deserved lifestyle boost.