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Men’s Health, the Silent Neglect
Despite widespread belief, Airlie Women’s Clinic does NOT only see women. At Airlie Women’s Clinic the health of all sectors of the community are of concern to us and 20% of our patients are indeed male.
However, it is well-known that often the men in our lives do need a little encouragement when it comes to their health. Many men neglect their health and avoid doctors not only when they have worrying symptoms, but avoid doctors all the more when it comes to preventative health check-ups. This is such a common phenomenon that it has been suggested that this reluctance might partly explain why the life-expectancy of men is approximately 4 years shorter than that of women. Avoiding seeing a doctor means that the opportunity for prevention, early diagnosis, and simple early intervention can often be missed.
The “head in the sand” attitude of men towards their often suboptimal lifestyle means that a lack of discipline in the areas of a healthy diet, exercise, alcohol consumption and work/life balance, leads to less favourable health outcomes.
A classic example are the modifiable risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol. Both of these rarely cause symptoms, and will only become apparent with active regular screening. Men are at highest risk of cardiovascular disease, yet are less well screened, due to their reluctance to engage in regular health checks.
Equally important when it comes to men’s health, is assessing a man’s risk for prostate cancer, the most common cancer in Australian men. Like all cancers, early detection significantly increases the chance of cure and long-term survival. Often in the early phase of prostate cancer, there can be no symptoms at all, however in more advanced cases, symptoms may include: urinating more frequently, needing to rush to get to the toilet, a urinary stream that is slow to start, having a weak urinary flow or dribbling, and waking up once or more during the night to pass urine. These symptoms are often the same, and can easily be confused with those associated with a common benign condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which in simple terms means benign growth of the prostate tissue. BPH commonly develops in men as they age. As such, a thorough assessment by your doctor is essential to distinguish the cause of these symptoms.
At Airlie Women’s Clinic we take a holistic approach to men’s health – assessing all aspects of health from head to toe. As in all our patients, we tailor a health plan to each individual and their unique health needs. This may include but is not limited to:
- health checks specifically for 45-49year olds,
- cardiovascular risk assessments,
- smoking cessation plans,
- mental health consultations,
- weight management,
- sexual health checks,
- skin checks, and
- prostate examinations.
So if you or a male you know has been burying their head in the sand when it comes to health, a few gentle reminders might just be the encouragement needed, to see improvements in the health of the men in our community.