Improving men’s health is a high priority. A boy born in Australia in 2010 has a life expectancy of 78.0 years while a baby girl born at the same time could expect to live to 82.3 years old.
Right from the start, boys suffer more illness, more accidents and die earlier than their female counterparts. Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women (that’s five men a day, on average). Accidents, cancer and heart disease all account for the majority of male deaths.
Our doctors recognise prevention is vital to improve men’s health outcomes. Moreover, as men attend doctors less frequently than women, our GPs encourage men to return for regular checkups.
Our GPs recommend tests for checking for blood in the stools each 2 years over 50 and colonoscopy in those with a family history of bowel cancer.
They advise men between 19 and 32 to regularly examine their testes to check for testicular cancer. In addition, they discuss the option of screening for prostate cancer with a PSA and digital rectal examination from 50 and 40 in those with a family history.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition affecting 1 in 7 men between 40-49 and increasing to 1 in 4 over 70. A yearly check of the prostate can help detect this and it is important to discuss with your GP any changing urinary symptoms such as frequency, slow stream, dribbling or nocturia.
A healthy diet and regular exercise can help to lower the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Adopting healthy habits, such as eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising, will also help to prevent your cholesterol levels from becoming high in the first place.
To improve men’s health, it’s important to keep cholesterol in check because high cholesterol levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you are concerned about your cholesterol, talk to your doctor.
Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, means not being able to get or keep an erection that is sufficient for intercourse. Many men have erectile dysfunction at some time in their lives. It can come and go.
Erectile dysfunction affects about 1 million men in Australia. It is more common in older men.
Erectile dysfunction can have a range of causes, both physical and psychological. It also can be a warning sign of medical illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes or depression. It is important to raise this issue with your GP so they can investigate and treat this problem.
One in 8 men experiences depression at some stage of their life. Men are more likely to recognise and describe the physical symptoms of depression (such as feeling tired or losing weight) than women. Men may acknowledge feeling irritable or angry, rather than saying they feel low.
Depression isn’t just about feeling sad or frustrated. To clarify, it’s about feeling out of control, powerless to handle emotions and unable to see a way out. It can affect anyone at any age. Moreover, it can be triggered by many things that go wrong in our lives. Everyone feels ‘down’ occasionally. However, if someone has been sad, moody, angry or unable to sleep or concentrate for more than a couple of weeks, it could be depression. A man might also lose interest in work, sport, sex, going out or other things he might previously have enjoyed.
Men can get depressed because of problems with their physical health; alcohol or drug abuse; loneliness; being unemployed; or bullying at school or work. Depression might also be due to a change in their life situation, such as a divorce or break-up, or even the birth of a baby.
Our GPs encourage men to discuss these issues so they can provide the appropriate mental health intervention and support.
The risk of heart disease can be significantly lowered by:
- not smoking or ceasing smoking
- eating a healthy diet
- exercising regularly
- maintaining a healthy weight
Chronic health conditions need to be managed to improve men’s health. Conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes should be managed working to achieve targets which lower risk with a chronic disease management plan. The 45-49 year old health check can be used as a basis for an extensive health check and is covered by Medicare.