Did you know that men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women? Part of the reason is that men are more reluctant to go to the doctor, according to menshealthmonth.org. In fact, studies show that women go to the doctor twice as much as men.
Additionally, Men’s Health Network notes that certain conditions are more prevalent in men, which patients and their doctors should keep an eye on through regular appointments.
Thus, the purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among both men and boys.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the U.S.
In fact, heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 male deaths across the country. While heart disease is common, it is often preventable. Since heart disease is a common condition in men, Men’s Health Month is the perfect time to learn more about how you can prevent heart disease in yourself or in someone you love.
Prostate Cancer Affects One in Nine Men.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 175,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed each year, and prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Given these statistics, it’s important to ensure that at-risk men are being screened for prostate cancer—especially considering men’s known reluctance to seek preventive care.
On the bright side, however, prostate cancer typically grows slowly, so many cases don’t require immediate treatment and aren’t life-threatening. Still, the earlier prostate cancer is caught, the easier it can be contained. It’s always better to be on the safe side.
Be proactive in looking for early signs of testicular cancer
According to Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Dorota Hawksworth, a urologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, testicular cancer is very rare, but is most common amongst males between 15 and 34 years of age.
“Many men have no known risk factors,” said Hawksworth, “the known risk factors [for testicular cancer] can’t be changed.”
These risk factors include a personal history of undescended testicle or prior testicular cancer, family history of testicular cancer, HIV infection, diagnosis of Klinefelter’s disease, age, race, and ethnicity, Hawksworth noted. White males develop testicular cancer at a rate four times higher than that of Black males, according to cancer.gov.
Mental Health is One of the Most Stigmatized Issues Affecting Men.
Many men—perhaps more than we think—struggle with their mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. The American Psychological Association reports that 30.6% of men have suffered from depression in their lifetime. Again, men’s hesitation to seek care may be worsening this issue.
Men are notorious for not talking about their feelings, and no, that’s not just another stereotype. It’s an actual trend psychologists have documented. In the eyes of many men, discussing emotions is just another form of vulnerability that can lead to discomfort. It can be scary for many men to begin sharing their feelings, but the payoff is worth it: men who express their feelings verbally are less likely to express them violently.
The Average Man Should Be Making Better Lifestyle Choices to Protect His Health.
The stats back it up: men drink more heavily and smoke more frequently than women. We hate to be Debbie Downers, but habitual drinking and smoking can have severe health implications. Drugs and alcohol can cause issues ranging from lung and heart disease to liver problems to preventable accidents.
Plus, men tend to make less healthy choices in the kitchen. Women eat far more fruits and vegetables than men, while men prefer meat and dairy. Yes, we know we’re starting to sound like a broken record about the impact of cultural factors, but it’s likely that social norms are influencing this trend, too. Cultural expectations can play a subliminal role in men’s dietary choices and can have consequences over time.
Partly due to health behaviors, men have a shorter life expectancy than women. This gap has only continued to widen over time, and men are currently expected to live 5 fewer years than women, on average. So if anyone asks why we need a month for men’s health, this disparity in lifespan should speak for itself—men simply aren’t as healthy as they could be, and it’s time to fix that.