November is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the Movember Foundation uses the month to bring awareness to and support of those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide. June is Men’s Health Month; the purpose is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. The following are recommendations that are supported by evidence from scholarly journals and professional organizations and associations to improve men’s health.
Throughout the world, women live longer than men, although this gap varies tremendously in less developed countries. According to the CIA World Factbook, in the United States, average longevity for women is 82.2 years for women and 77.2 years for men, a five-year gap. Many men have the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” so if they cannot see or feel an external stimulus, they will think there is nothing ever wrong. A majority of men are just not aware of what they can do to improve their health and live healthier and happier lives.
At a very least, get vaccinated. Everyone needs immunizations to stay healthy, no matter their age. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, you may need updates because immunity can fade with time. Vaccine recommendations are based on a range of factors, including age, overall health, and your medical history. Ask your health care provider or a pharmacist about the recommended vaccinations.
Recommendations for men’s health beginning at age 20 and beyond
- Get an annual physical exam by your primary care provider, including blood pressure, and height/weight checks.
- Annually screen for testicular cancer that includes monthly self-exams.
- Have cholesterol testing every five years.
- Screen for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anemia.
- Depending on risk factors, screen for skin cancer, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection, and alcohol and drug misuse.
- At 30, screen for coronary heart disease, especially with a strong family history of the disease and/or risk factors.
- At 40, screen for thyroid disease, liver problems, anemia, and prostate cancer.
- At 50, screen for cholesterol every five years; annually screen for Type II diabetes; lipid disorders; and skin, colon, and lung cancer. Obtain a shingles vaccine.
- At 60, screen for depression, osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and abdominal aortic aneurysm. Have a carotid artery ultrasound.
- At 70, depending on previous findings, some screenings may be done every six months.
Recommendations for men’s health regardless of age
- Men have more difficulty handling stress than women, partially because women have better social networks and more friends with whom they can confide. Thus, men should seek out more friends, whether they are male or female.
- Laughter increases endorphins, thereby increasing longevity. Get a sense of humor and engage with others with whom you can laugh.
- Avoid tobacco products and non-prescriptive drugs.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Research the reliability of vitamins or herbs before starting them. Make sure it is recommended by professionals, not just the manufacturer of the item.
- Don’t become a workaholic; it increases stress and can lead to health concerns such as hypertension and weight gain. Get a hobby that helps you decrease stress, exercise in the manner you prefer, and seek help with diet to maintain a desirable weight.
- Men, especially young men, are known for engaging in risky behaviors. Wear seatbelts, helmets when riding bicycles or motorcycles, don’t text or talk on the telephone when driving, and avoid friends who encourage illicit drug use and high alcohol consumption.
- If sexually active, get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections. You might think you are safe if you engage in sexual activity with only one person, but that person might be having sexual relations with others, a concept called serial monogamy.
- The Guttmacher Institute reports that some boys start having sex at the age of 10 and that number increases each year until by the age of 20, 75 percent of men and boys engage sexual activity by the age of 20. Therefore, start safe-sex education at home and in school beginning at age of 10.
Disclaimer: The Men’s Health Awareness views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Excelsior College, its trustees, officers, or employees.
By Larry Purnell, PhD, RN, FAAN
Originally posted on Excelsior.edu