Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that men, on average, have a life expectancy around five years shorter than women. This highlights the importance for men to prioritise their health.
This article will explore various health conditions affecting men, offering insights into these issues that could potentially impact their overall well-being. Being aware of these health conditions is crucial for men in maintaining their health.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that makes it difficult for men to get or maintain an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. Symptoms might include constant difficulty getting and keeping an erection and lowered sexual desire.
Some of the risk factors for erectile dysfunction include prostate problems, type 2 diabetes, hypogonadism in association with several endocrinologic conditions, high cholesterol, chronic sleep disorders, neurogenic disorders, depression, heavy alcohol consumption, and smoking, which exacerbates the effects of other risk factors, such as vascular disease and hypertension.
After identifying the cause of erectile dysfunction, your doctor will help determine the best treatment option for you, some of which you can start on your own by making some lifestyle changes.
Those with mild ED can include minimum 45 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity (brisk walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, jumping rope) three times a week. Quitting smoking can lead to the improvement of mild ED after several months. For some patients, medications designed to enhance blood flow to the penis may be prescribed.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) / Enlarged Prostate
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate gland that is non-cancerous.
Risks of having an enlarged prostate and its related symptoms will increase once a man reaches his 40s, in comparison to men younger than the age of 40. Men over 50 years of age are more prone to this common urological disorder.
The possibility of a man having problems with his prostate is higher if he has family members with prostate issues. Diabetes and heart disease might increase the risk of having BPH. Obesity also raises the risk of developing BPH, but exercising can help lower the risk.
Symptoms of BPH include needing more pressure and straining to begin urinating, difficulty in starting and maintaining a steady urine stream, bladder does not feel completely empty after urination, suddenly being unable to urinate (acute retention of urine), feeling the sudden urge to urinate, urinating more often, especially at night, urine leakage, and finding blood in urine.
There are a few treatment options for BPH. Rezum Vapour Therapy is a secure and established natural alternative treatment for BPH compared to surgery. This therapy uses convective steam therapy to eliminate obstructive prostate tissues. The amount of water vapour is tailored to the size of the prostate.
Drug treatment includes drugs that relax the prostate to alleviate the blockage of the bladder opening, or drugs that inhibit the production of the male hormone (dht) which is implicated in prostate enlargement.
Laser vaporisation treatment is designed for patients with smaller prostate glands, involving the delivery of laser energy, through the urethra to the prostate gland to eliminate enlarged prostate tissues.
In some cases, the enlarged parts of the prostate that are pressing against the urethra are removed surgically.
Prostate cancer develops in the prostate, which is a small gland with a walnut-like form that is a part of the male reproductive system. Prostate cancer is more prevalent among men above the age of 50 and those with family members diagnosed with prostate cancer or breast cancer, inherited breast cancer genes – BRCA1, BRCA2. Another risk factor for prostate cancer is obesity.
Men with early prostate cancer typically exhibit no symptoms. However, more advanced stages of prostate cancer may cause symptoms such as difficulty urinating, urinary hesitancy (weak flow of urine, difficulty maintaining a stream), frequent urination, blood in the urine (haematuria), erectile dysfunction, blood in the semen, pain when ejaculating, and bone pain.
The course of treatment for prostate cancer is determined by the rate of spread and growth of cancer as well as the patient’s general health and preferences.
Radical prostatectomy is a surgical treatment that removes the prostate using laparoscopic, robotic, or traditional open surgery.
External beam radiation therapy directly delivers powerful X-ray beams to the tumour from the outside of the body. Brachytherapy uses radioactive seeds to deliver radiation internally, killing cancer cells while protecting healthy tissue around them.
Hormone therapy inhibits the body's production of testosterone. By suppressing the production of testosterone, the growth of cancer cells is inhibited. Hormone medications such as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists can stop the body from producing testosterone.
Chemotherapy delivers medications intravenously, orally (as a tablet), or both, to kill cancer cells. This may be employed as a treatment for prostate cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
Prostate cancer is highly treatable. Early detection of prostate cancer is essential for better results. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests and digital rectal exams can both be used to diagnose prostate cancer early. However, it should be noted that these tests may not be completely accurate as several factors could influence the outcomes.
Therefore, men at average or high risk should discuss the possibility of prostate cancer screening with their doctors.
Testicular cancer, which begins in the testicles typically affects males between the ages of 15 and 40. However, men can develop testicular cancer at any age.
Testicular cancer usually occurs when malignant tumours, which contain cancerous cells, develop in the tissues of a testicle. These cells grow uncontrollably and can spread all around the body via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system.
Symptoms that can be attributed to testicular cancer include a lump in either the scrotum or testicle, a sudden or abrupt build-up of fluid in the scrotum, swelling of the scrotum or testicle, a feeling of sudden heaviness in the scrotum, pain in the scrotum or testicle, a shrinking testicle, dull aches in the groin area or lower abdomen, tenderness in the breast tissue, and a difference in appearance between the testicles.
If you feel the presence of a lump or if there is any pain or swelling present in the testicles or groin area, see a doctor to rule out cancerous growth at the earliest stage.
The course of treatment for testicular cancer is determined by the stage and type of cancer as well as the patient’s health and preferences.
Radical inguinal orchiectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the testicle with the tumour may be used for the treatment of both seminomas and non-seminomas.
Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND) is a form of surgery that involves the removal of the lymph nodes and large blood vessels behind the abdomen.
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to destroy the cancer cells. Chemotherapy employs drugs like bleomycin, cisplatin, and etoposide to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is beneficial for seminomas and non-seminomas.
Cardiovascular disease is a group of diseases impacting your heart and blood vessels. One or various parts of your heart and/or blood vessels can be impacted by cardiovascular disease. An individual may be symptomatic (physically experiencing the disease) or asymptomatic (not feeling anything at all).
Heart or blood vessel problems are categorised under cardiovascular diseases, including narrowing of the blood vessels in your heart, other organs, or throughout your body, congenital heart and blood vessel problems, heart valves that are not functioning properly, and irregular heart rhythms.
Risk factors that increase your risk of getting cardiovascular disease include underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Being overweight and obesity also increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Symptoms of cardiovascular disease can differ depending on the cause. Symptoms of heart issues include chest pain (angina), the feeling of chest pressure, heaviness, or discomfort, which individuals sometimes describe as a "belt around the chest" or a "weight on the chest”, shortness of breath (dyspnoea), dizziness or fainting, and fatigue or exhaustion.
Symptoms of blockages in blood vessels throughout your body include pain or cramps in your legs while walking, leg sores that are not healing, cool or red skin on your legs, swelling in your legs, numbness on one side of your body, and having difficulties in talking, seeing, or walking.
There are various treatment options depending on your symptoms and what cardiovascular disease you have.
Lifestyle changes including diet change, increasing aerobic activity, and stopping smoking or tobacco products (including vaping) are important.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to manage and control cardiovascular disease. The prescribed medicine you receive depends on the kind of cardiovascular disease you have.
If medication proves insufficient, your doctor may suggest procedures or even surgeries to treat your cardiovascular disease. Stents in your heart or leg arteries, minimally invasive heart surgery, open-heart surgery, ablations, or cardioversion are some procedures and surgeries that may be recommended.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a monitored exercise programme that may help in strengthening your heart. Without any medications or procedures/surgeries, you may need to be carefully monitored over time.
There are some mental health disorders that are diagnosed at similar rates for both men and women or at higher rates for men, like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the likelihood of men passing away by suicide is higher than women. Therefore, men’s mental health is important and should not be neglected.
A study has discussed several risk factors that may result in men’s declining mental health, although there are other potential factors that could affect men’s mental health as well.
Unemployment can act as a chronic stressor, while sudden job loss or redundancy can act as an acute stressor. A few studies have indicated that unemployment impacts men’s mental well-being more in comparison to women.
Family represents another significant part of men’s lives in which they hold important purpose and meaning in their lives. There is evidence that suggests both divorce and romantic breakups pose strong risk factors for mental illness and suicide in men.
Childhood abuse is prevalent among boys and girls; however, some types of abuse are more common in boys than girls (and vice versa), such as physical abuse. There is a higher likelihood for abused boys to show a series of behaviours that may be harder to classify psychiatrically. For example: delinquency, disruptive behaviours, school dropout, binge drinking, and risk-taking. These behaviours are typically associated with character issues instead of mental health issues, resulting in a punitive rather than a psychiatric approach.
As mentioned earlier, undergoing divorce and experiencing unemployment are two huge risk factors that increase the risk of mental health issues in men. Many men struggle to adjust to a new reality after these transitions. There is evidence that indicates other life transitions can increase the risk of mental illness in both men and women. Bereavement and the onset of disabilities are the included well-researched transitions.
It is normal to experience feelings of fear, sadness, and helplessness tied to your mental health. However, you have the power to look after your mental health and well-being.
Some ways to take care of your mental health:
- Talk to a loved one, or someone you trust – whether a friend, a family member, or a colleague – can help make you feel better. Stay in contact with your loved ones virtually through phone and video calling, or texting, if you live far away from them.
- Take 30 minutes of your time every day to stay active by either going on a run, walking, yoga, dancing, cycling, or gardening. A healthy diet and sufficient rest are also essential for a healthy body and mind.
- Continuously engage yourself in activities that you find meaningful and spark joy, like preparing meals for yourself or your loved ones, spending time with your pets, strolling in the park, reading a book, or watching a film or TV series.
- Steer away from harmful substances such as drugs, kava, alcohol, or tobacco to manage what you are feeling. Although you may feel better temporarily after using them, constant substance abuse can make you feel worse over the long term. These dangerous substances can harm you and people around you with diseases or injuries.
- If you feel overwhelmed with the stress that you are facing, do seek professional help by calling your local mental health helpline or contacting your counsellor or doctor. Remember you are not alone, and there are ways you can take to support your emotional well-being.
Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals
Gleneagles Hospitals provides an extensive selection of health screening programs tailored to the unique requirements of each individual, considering their health condition and preferences.
Our team of dedicated healthcare professionals is available to offer guidance and assist in recommending or customising a screening package that suits your age, gender, family background, and medical history.
For appointments, please contact the Health Screening Centre at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.