Educating yourself about men’s health

Men’s health awareness month is a good time educate yourself on the matters of health that are specific to men and people with biologically male bodies. If you know the symptoms of prostate cancer, you could help someone make sense of the changes in their body. If you have sex with men, or anyone with testicles, you might notice a lump or a change in shape or size. And if you are familiar with the signs of depression you may be able to spot them in a friend. In all these cases, knowing what the signs mean could help save lives.

Testicular cancer

A close-up of a white man holding his crotch. He’s wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, the background is lilac. The shot shows him from under his shoulders to the top of his thighs.
Credit: Marco Verch / Flickr

If you are in a sexual relationship with a man or a anyone with testicles, particularly if you are very familiar with their body, you might be able to spot signs of testicular cancer, such as changes in size or shape of the testicles. Or, if someone you’re close to complains about some of the symptoms below, you could suggest they get checked.

Common symptoms of testicular cancer

  • Hard lump on the testicles
  • Change in shape or size
  • Unusual soreness
  • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum (nut sack)
  • Dull ache or ongoing pain in the testicles, groin or lower back 

Whether you notice a lump or someone tells you about any of the signs above, you should encourage them to see a doctor and share with them helpful resources such as this step-by-step guide to checking your testicles.

Prostate cancer

A portrait of an older black man with a grey beard. He’s wearing a brown hat and a white and blue striped shirt. He’s looking at the camera with a friendly, neutral expression. The background is blurry.
Black people and people with African ancestry have an increased risk of prostate cancer. Credit: Freddy Kearney / Unsplash

Although prostate cancer can appear without any symptoms, it’s good to know what to look out for and to know who‘s most at risk. 

Prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease that can develop over many years before causing symptoms. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age but is mostly found in people over 50. Black people and people with African ancestry are more likely to get prostate cancer as are people with a history of prostate cancer in their family. 

Common signs of prostate cancer

  • Difficulty when urinating 
  • Not getting an erection during sex
  • Aches and pains in your hips and pelvis
  • Bloody urine or semen

If anyone close to you who has a prostate tells you that they have been experiencing any of these symptoms, you should encourage them to seek medical advice and share helpful resources on finding out when to see a doctor.

Mental Health

A white man in a white shirt and blue jeans is sitting in nature, holding his head in his hand, looking sad and distressed. The threes in the background are blurred out.
Men are still less likely to speak about their mental health struggles due to stigma. Credit: Ben White / Unsplash

Because men are less likely to speak out about their mental health struggles, it’s important to know the signs that could signal someone close to you is having a difficult time. Signs of depression are manyfold but here are some of the things to look out for:

  • Continuous low mood 
  • Avoiding friends and skipping social activities 
  • Neglecting hobbies and interest
  • Being more irritable than usual
  • Talk of death or suicide
  • Self-harming behaviour, such as extreme alcohol or drug use or cutting…
  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual 
  • A sudden, noticeable change in weight
  • Low sex drive
  • Disturbed sleep

Note that not everyone who shows any of these signs has depression. Make sure not to diagnose the person you are worried about but encourage them to open up and start a conversation. If you are close to someone it can be daunting to make that first step, but there are a lot of recourses to learn how to tackle those conversations on the Movember website.

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Reporter for the Kingston Courier

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