Keep your man in tip top condition with our helpful guide.
Men are notoriously bad at looking after their health. The result? They are more reluctant to book that GP appointment and more likely to end up with serious conditions that that could have been treated had they been to the doctor earlier.
“Men spend more time, cash and effort maintaining their car than looking after themselves,” says men’s health expert Dr Sarah Brewer. “They rarely attend check-ups, put off seeking help for persistent aches, pains or lumps and often only see the doctor, dentist or optician if pushed.”
The results of male reticence can be serious. Men’s live’s on average are five years shorter than women’s, and that’s not all. “Diagnosis and treatment of male cancers, such as testicular cancer lags behind high-profile female ones, such as breast and cervical cancer because men are less comfortable with ’embarrassing’ problems and are reluctant to take ownership of their health,” says leading cancer researcher, Dr Clare Turnbull, health advisor to the Movember campaign.
NHS General Health Check
What is it?
A midlife MOT to assess heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and dementia risks.
Blood test for cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference and a blood test if he’s at risk of diabetes.
From 40-75 every five years, it’s free and available to all men (and women too).
Faecal occult blood test
What is it?
A test that analyses a sample of faeces for “occult” (hidden) blood, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.
Three separate samples of faeces are smeared on to a special card and posted off for analysis.
Every two years between 60 and 69 (England and Northern Ireland); 50-74 (Scotland) and 60-74 (Wales).
PSA (prostate specific antigen) test
What is it?
A test to detect a protein made by the prostate. A raised level can be a sign of something benign like an enlarged prostate, BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), prostatitis (inflamed prostate), urinary infection or, more seriously, prostate cancer.
A blood test. If levels are high he may have further tests but PSA is controversial because it is unspecific. The danger is it can produce false positives and lead to treatment for a cancer that might never have caused problems. On the other hand, it can be life-saving.
Men of 50+ can see the doctor to discuss having a free test under the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Program (PCRMP). The GP should outline the benefits, limitations and risks to help him decide whether to go ahead.
Testicular cancer most often strikes men under 45. Encourage him to get to know his testicles and what’s normal for him by checking monthly. The bath or shower is a good place to do it.
Check each testicle using one or both hands, rolling not squeezing each gently. They should be roughly an even size and smooth to touch though it’s normal for one to hang slightly lower or be slightly bigger. If he feels a lump, make an appointment with the doctor. Nine out of ten men are cured if the cancer is caught early.
Male deaths from melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, have doubled in the past 30 years. And if your fella has fair skin and hair and blue eyes, he’s more at risk. Pack a sun-screen in his man bag and encourage him to do a monthly mole check.
Examine the skin from head to toe. Include scalp, face, neck, underneath a moustache or beard and front and back of his torso. Use a mirror to examine back and skin between the buttocks. Examine the back of the legs, the skin between the toes, the toe nail beds and soles of the feet. Report any moles bigger than the width of a pencil or with uneven colouring, a ragged edge or any that bleed, itch, are red, inflamed or crusty.
If he’s buying ever-larger-waist trousers, he could have insulin resistance, when the body makes but can’t use insulin. This increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Encourage him to lose weight by eating healthy and doing more exercise. Choose something you can do together – joining the gym, walking, dancing or cycling.
He should measure his waist mid way between the the bottom of his ribs and top of his hips whilst standing naturally. The circumference should be less than 94cm.
Encourage him to quit smokingMen are more likely to smoke, smoke more and smoke roll ups or cigars, which are just as risky for lung cancer or heart disease.
Watch his alcohol intake
Moderate drinking protects the heart but overdoing it increases risk of heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses. He shouldn’t exceed 3 – 4 units a day. Serve alcohol-free drinks or water with weekday meals.
Send him to the dentist
Keeping those dentist and hygienist appointments are essential not only to keep his pearly whites and gums healthy, but also to check for mouth cancer. How often he needs to go depends on his oral health but will usually be once a year. If he like gadgets, why not buy him a sonic toothbrush and a Waterpik flosser?
Make sure he gets regular eye checks
Tests are free if he’s over 60 or has a condition such as glaucoma, and can detect changes that could rob him of sight. The optometrist will advise how often he needs to attend but it should be at least every two years.