This article addresses those hard to talk about health issues that some men suffer through and that contribute to, not only great physical but psychological stress. And it is dedicated not only to provide helpful information to men but also to women who should play a vital role in their partners’ health matters assisting in early detection of disease. Information on signs to look out for will be discussed and of which if found, should be immediately reviewed by a board-certified medical practitioner.
Involvement in your partner’s health is important as many times you may notice signs and symptoms of the disease that your loved has ignored entirely or is oblivious to. Women should encourage men to keep active, eat a balanced diet, and stay away from smoking and alcohol, and do self-exams and to get regular checkups with their healthcare provider.
The following are some useful screening tests that can be done and should be discussed with your healthcare provider:
- Cholesterol, lipid profiles showing LDH and HDL levels.
- Regular blood pressure measuring.
- For those 40 and over; PSA, prostate-specific antigen, test for early detection of benign prostatic enlargement/hyperplasia. Digital rectal exam (DRE) for those in the high-risk category i.e. family history of benign prostatic enlargement, prostatic cancer. Cancer markers may also be done depending on medical history.
- For those over 50, a colonoscopy every three years to rule out any malignancies. Also, PSA and DRE every year.
The prostate is a male reproductive organ responsible for producing prostatic fluid, a main component of semen. It lies anteriorly to the rectum and can be palpated via the rectum.
Most common cancer in men. Becomes more prevalent with age. Treatable if detected early. May not cause any symptoms in the early stages. Signs include:
- Difficulty passing urine.
- Urinary incontinence.
- Blood in the urine.
- Pelvic or back pain.
- (Painful urination)
Treatment is usually by excision of the prostate, radiation, or immunotherapy. In the early stages and in those of low risk, monitoring of progression and discussion with your healthcare provider on treatment options is advised.
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
When we talk about erectile dysfunction, we refer to the inability of a man to get or maintain an erection sufficient for his or his partner’s needs. ED is more common than thought. It afflicts men of different ages but is more common in those of age. Psychological stress and the stigma attached to the disorder can lead a man to feel insecure, have a low self-esteem and suffer from mental health problems. Possible causes for ED include:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Cardiac and Renal disease.
- High BP.
- Mental health problems.
- Substance abuse.
The condition is generally treatable and may include; drug therapy, devices that help maintain an erection, injections, etc.
Being that the condition can have a toll on a man’s mental health, it is important for women to reassure their partners and encourage medical consultation with a specialist.
Quite common in those aged between 15 and 35. Newer diagnostic methods have provided effective ways to catch it at an early stage when treatment is curative. Self-examination along with knowledge and understanding of what to look out for is key in detecting testicular cancer early. Women can carry out the exam if one feels uncomfortable doing it themselves.
Symptoms of testicular cancer:
- A dull ache in the lower abdomen or scrotal region.
- Pain and discomfort in the scrotum.
- Lumps or swelling in the scrotum.
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts.
How to perform a testicular self-exam?
- Stand in front of a mirror with adequate lighting and preferably in a private secluded space.
- Examine skin and look for any new areas of hyperpigmentation or showing abnormality.
- Look for swelling in the scrotum.
- Use index, middle and thumb fingers to examine each testicle.
- Look and feel for any hard lumps or nodular changes.
- If any lump or swelling is detected do not hesitate to seek medical advice.
Although more common in females, men can also get breast cancer. Approximately 1 out of 100 breast cancer patients is a man. Pathomorphology is similar to what is seen in females.
- A lump is often painless in the breast.
- Hyperemia and scaling of breast skin.
- Skin dimpling.
- Other symptoms; Clear or bloody discharge from the nipple. Systemic signs may also be present in later stages.
Both women and men should have a discussion with their doctors on how to perform a breast self-exam during medical consultations so as to increase chances of detecting it in its early stages when it is yet treatable.