How Men Can Become More Proactive With Their Health

For whatever reason, men are much more hesitant than women when it comes to being proactive about their health and seeing their family physician for regular checkups — something that I suggests people do on a yearly basis regardless of how healthy they may be feeling. Our culture teaches men to be self-reliant, and as a result they tend to ignore certain health concerns they may have, only going to the doctor when the situation reaches an emergency level or when it is too late for treatment to be effective. Because of this, the average life expectancy of a male is between 5 and 6 years less than that of a female. Therefore, it’s important to open the dialogue and teach men that their health shouldn’t be ignored. When it comes to discussing health, men should not only reach out to their family physician’s office and book an annual exam, but they should also talk about their health amongst friends. Sometimes having that dialogue can help encourage others to be just as proactive about their own health, too. In fact, it can be life-saving.

It’s also important to know the numbers. You’re at an increased risk of developing certain health conditions depending on your age. For example, by the age of 50, it’s recommended that men begin screening for prostate cancer. If you have certain risk factors of developing prostate cancer (i.e. if you’re of African or Caribbean descent, or if your father or brother has had prostate cancer) then you should start the screening as early as age 45. For younger men, testicular cancer can also be a concern. It can occur as early as age 15, all the way through age 40 or later. Just as women do self-exams for breast cancer, men can also do self-exams for testicular cancer. Testicular Cancer Canada offers a self-examination guide via their website which can be found at www.testitcularcancer.ngo. If you notice any tenderness, lumps or other abnormal growths, then you should inform your physician immediately. Other warning signs of testicular cancer can include back pain, as well as pain in the abdomen or groin. Men who are sexually active should also make healthy decisions, such as practicing safe sex and being tested for sexually transmitted diseases — especially if they have multiple sexual partners. 1 in 2 sexually active individuals will be diagnosed with at least one STD in their lifetime, and the number of STDs being diagnosed are already on the rise at alarming rates in North America.

Lastly, all individuals, including men, should make sure they’re getting regular physical activity and eating healthy. Whether it’s going for a walk or jog, biking to work instead of driving, or working out at the gym — the more exercise you get, the better you will feel. The same goes for the food you eat. For increased energy and to prevent diseases, it’s recommended that men intake their whole grains as well as consume more fruits and vegetables.

Originally published at http://alighahary.ca on October 14, 2018.

Dr. Ali Ghahary is a Family Physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. http://www.alighahary.ca

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