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Men’s Health Week: Time To Take Action, Guys!
Lifestyle|Jun 14, 2022

Men’s Health Week: Time To Take Action, Guys!

If You’ve Got A Health Issue You’ve Been Trying To Ignore, Now Is The Time To Sort It Out.
Corrine Barraclough

New research shines a light on some of the reasons men neglect their own health. If you’ve got a health issue you’ve been trying to ignore, maybe this Men’s Health Week (Monday 13 to Sunday 19 June) is the time to take action.

 

Denial, mistrust and the fear of being perceived as weak are just some of the reasons men neglect their health, according to research ahead of Men’s Health Week from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 June.

The research asked men across Australia what kept them from seeking help with their health when they needed it.

The research found: 
* Up to one-third of men indicated they would not seek information about private health issues. Health problems perceived as private include erectile dysfunction, chlamydia screening, urinary tract infections, and loss of libido. 

* The main reasons for not seeking information about serious health issues included ‘never talking about health issues’ (13% of men surveyed) and ‘not feeling comfortable talking about health’ (13%).

* Many chose to delay seeking help in the hope the issue would ‘sort itself out’, and only acted when it began to interfere with their daily life.

 

Hugo was four years into his Army career, he was 21, and at that stage was fit and healthy with no real experiences with cancer when he noticed an obvious lump on his right testicle. He googled ‘lump on testicle’ and everything came up, from you've got a cyst, you've got testicular torsion, you've got testicular cancer, you've got six months to live. Naturally, Hugo looked at that and went, ‘Oh, well it’s probably just a cyst’.

Hugo says, “The turning point — I remember the date well because it was my dad's birthday. I was in my Army room, lying on my bed, wishing my dad a happy birthday on the phone, and I said to him, "I've got this lump on my testicle." I was 21, I was still a bit vulnerable talking about that stuff. He simply said, "Why don't you just go off to a doctor, mate, and get it looked at? Better safe than sorry." It was the prompt I needed to say, "Actually, why don't I just go a doctor, it's not that hard?” The assessment was a bit uncomfortable, but at the same time, a lot easier than I thought. You build it up in your head to be this whole big thing.”

 

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Nick lives in Brisbane and has a company specialising in management consultancy. One morning after a restless night’s sleep he noticed a bit of a lump on his right breast just to the right of where the nipple was. It was about the size of a 5-cent coin, hard and a bit tender. 

Nick says, “I went to the doctor and fortunately, the doctor pushed for it to be investigated. I was really grateful for that. It could have made a difference.”

He adds, “Initially, I didn’t want to tell many people that I had breast cancer, I said I've got a lump in my chest that has to be operated on. I didn't really want to publicise the fact I had breast cancer. It’s really seen as a woman’s disease. I was too uncomfortable to say, "I have breast cancer. I'm a male and I have breast cancer." It didn't take too long to get over the fact that it was what it was and now I'm not ashamed of it. I'm happy to stand up in front of a crowd and say, "Hi, I had breast cancer. Guys you need to know about this and get yourself checked out because it can happen to you too.”

I didn't really want to publicise the fact I had breast cancer. It’s really seen as a woman’s disease

Luke is a 26-year-old business owner and management accountant based in Launceston, Tasmania. He’s an open book about his experience with postnatal depression; a condition many men don’t realise can affect them, not just their partners.

Luke says, “I was sort of aware of postnatal depression, but I didn't know anyone who was open about having it. I'm someone who has a degree in psychology, but I didn’t recognise the symptoms of postnatal depression in myself straight away. It took close to a year of my wife, who has a history of social anxiety and depression, telling me I was showing symptoms of depression and doing her best to support me and our newborn baby. At least once a week she’d suggest I go chat to our GP and I'd be like, ‘No, I'm fine. I'm fine. It's all good.’ Then there might be a week or so where I make a conscious effort to pick up my game, but then there's always a relapse. In the moment even I couldn't recognise what was going on. In hindsight, I can. There were lots of sick days where I'd rather be at home. I struggled to get out of bed, increased weight, short fuse — a lot of the classic symptoms.”

“A lot of men try to be in charge of many aspects of their lives, but it doesn’t always extend to their health,” says Healthy Male CEO Simon von Saldern. “The idea of being perceived as weak for what should be basic health seeking behaviours is a stigma Healthy Male wants to eliminate.”

 

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Healthy Male is a provider of information on men’s health that facilitates action on men’s health in collaboration with others and works towards a vision of generations of healthy Australian men.

“Health isn’t something men should only think about in terms of going to the doctor,” said Simon von Saldern. “Male specific health issues start from a young age, for example testicular cancer is the second most common form of cancer for men aged 18-39 years, every father should be talking to their boys about testicular self-examination together with genital hygiene. There are some very common health issues that relate to men that are still considered taboo’ subjects. These are varied and many – everything from anxiety and depression to erectile dysfunction, incontinence or loneliness. No doctor will ever laugh at you because you have a concern that you want to talk to them about. If you aren’t sure how to discuss an issue with you doctor tell them just that - ‘I’m not sure how to discuss this with you.”