Tell me if you’re familiar with this stereotype.
Man doesn’t go to see his GP when something’s up. He either doesn’t acknowledge that there’s anything wrong, or he’s not used to opening up about vulnerabilities. Maybe he feels like, as the man, he can’t admit to being ill, like it’s a sign of weakness. Maybe he’s afraid.
Sadly, it appears that there is some truth to this stereotype. According to research, men have a tendency to visit their doctors less than women, and aside from the usual excuses, a fear of embarrassment is often a factor. But although symptoms may seem trivial, putting off seeing a GP could pose a serious risk to your health.
The Movember Foundation has undoubtedly boosted awareness of men’s health issues, bringing attention to potentially serious conditions, like prostate and testicular cancer, and encouraging more men to visit the doctor if they have concerns. So, if you’ve ever experienced eczema on your penis, an itchy bottom or the urgent need to go to the loo, while you may be embarrassed about them, your doctor won’t be.
Common Men’s Health Questions
In a recent initiative, AXA PPP healthcare have shed some light on some of the most popular men’s health questions they get asked:
Testicular cancer is a male cancer which should be checked for regularly, and just like other cancers, it can be easier to treat if detected early. By regularly examining yourself, you are more likely to notice if anything changes or feels unusual so it is best to make this a part of your usual daily routine.
The best time to check your testicles is after a warm shower, as this is when the skin is most relaxed, by following the below guide:
- Rest your testicles in the palms of your hands and compare one testicle with the other for equal heaviness. A lot of men have one testicle which is larger than the other, or one that hangs lower than the other, so don’t worry if this is the case
- Place your fingers behind the scrotum and gently roll your testicle between your thumb and fingers
- You are looking out for any hard lump or swelling – or any particular changes in shape. Make sure you check each testicle individually
- A normal testicle is oval shaped and feels firm, but not hard
- Most cases of testicular cancer start with a painless lump in the testicle; though sometimes there can be pain or discomfort or a heavy feeling in the scrotum. Make sure you consult your GP as soon as possible if you experience any of these sensations, or if you find a lump
If you experience any of the above symptoms for testicular cancer, make an appointment with your GP.
About 5 per cent of men over the age of 50 will develop a condition of the penis called Peyronie’s disease. This is a benign but potentially emotionally upsetting condition in which scar tissue develops on the shaft of the penis sometimes resulting in a penile bend noticeable with erections. This can lead to sexual dysfunction with in some cases the affected man avoiding a sexual relationship altogether.
A proportion of affected men will find erections and intercourse too painful although others will simply notice a lump on the shaft of the penis or a minor painless penile bend which does not cause too much trouble. Unfortunately there are no really effective cures for this condition, however we recommend visiting a GP for a more detailed assessment.
If the lump is painful and itchy it would most likely be a pile (or a perianal haematoma). They are caused when the bowels open and the anus is stretched too much. Sometimes a small vein inside the anus can leak or become swollen.
Piles usually get better without any treatment and are not serious. Make sure your motions are soft and you avoid constipation by eating a healthy diet (rich in vegetables and fruit). This prevents further stretching of the anus and will help the pile heal. Keep the area very clean and use a pile/haemorrhoid cream to soothe the itching. If the itch continues, visit your GP for an examination to confirm the diagnosis.
If you are experiencing any of the above, visit your GP, or the AXA PPP healthcare website for guidance, tips and information.