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Health Matters - Men's health

Health Matters - Men's health
24 October 2018

Dr Mike Clark, GP with High Street Surgery, Macclesfield and clinical lead for men’s health at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG

Did you know that life expectancy for men in the UK is almost four years less than for women? On average, men live for around 78.7 years while women can expect to notch up 82.6 years.

The reasons for men not living as long are largely preventable. Which means that it doesn’t have to be that way: it’s possible for all men to take action to live healthier, happier and longer lives.

A leading cause of ill health in men is prostate cancer. In 2015 alone, there were more than 47,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK. And prostate cancer represents 13 per cent of all cancer cases. Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and black men are more at risk.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.

It’s important to be aware that not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer. Many times, signs of prostate cancer are first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up.

Learn more about prostate cancer.  

Less common is testicular cancer, which tends to mostly affect men between 15 and 49 years of age. Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles or any change in shape or texture of the testicles. It's important to be aware of what feels normal for you. Get to know your body and see your GP if you notice any changes.

The exact cause or causes of testicular cancer are unknown but a number of factors have been identified that increase a man's risk of developing it. The three main risk factors are described below:

  • Undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) is the most significant risk factor for testicular cancer.
  • Having a close relative with a history of testicular cancer or an undescended testicle increases your risk of also developing it.
  • Men who've previously been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Learn more about testicular cancer.

A good rule of thumb for general physical and mental wellbeing is to move more. Add more activity to your day and find an exercise that you enjoy doing.

Remember to stay connected. Your friends are important and spending time with them is good for you. Catch up regularly and have open conversations. You don’t need to be an expert and you don’t have to be the sole solution but being there for someone, listening and giving your time can be lifesaving.