June is Men’s Health Month. It’s a time to focus on how we can bring more awareness and push for early detection and treatment of preventable health problems — both physical and mental — in men.
One of the best ways you can do this is simple: start a conversation.
If you identify as a man yourself, know that there is a world of support for you, and many ways that you can take better care of yourself even if right now you don’t feel able to talk about what’s bothering you or make time to think about your own health.
If you have men in your life who you care about, make it more normal to ask your male family members and friends about their health, encourage them to get regular check-ups with a healthcare professional, and help boys feel comfortable expressing themselves when they’re feeling unwell.
We need to remind each other that there is nothing weak about seeking help when you need it. In fact, it’s one of the strongest, bravest things you can do.
These six health conditions are the most commonly diagnosed in men. By being aware of what they are, we can stay on top of risks, recognize symptoms and understand where to go first for help.
Mental health and suicide
On average, around the world, a man dies by suicide every minute. In North America, 75% of deaths by suicide are men. Even though women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or to attempt suicide, men are far more likely to die because of it.
Suicide and the mental health conditions that lead to it are complex and sensitive. But as our collective awareness around mental health grows, we’re also beginning to unpack the ways that many men’s upbringing, societal pressures and views of mental health are directly connected to suicide. At the same time, research shows that improved mental health outcomes for men lead to reduced suicide risk.
Traditionally, men have experienced pressure not to seek help or talk about things that are bothering them. This can make it more difficult for people around them to notice symptoms or intervene.
Spotting the signs of mental illness in men and then finding the right way to start a discussion about it is one of the most crucial ways any of us can help ourselves, other men, or men in our life:
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death for men in the United States and the #2 cause in Canada. About 50% of men who die suddenly from heart disease don’t report experiencing any symptoms beforehand, making it even more important for men to be aware of their risks and take steps to create healthier habits.
We have easy-to-follow, step-by-step Health Programs that will guide you to tackle the top health recommendations to lower your risks for heart disease:
Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic medical conditions in North America. 34.5% of adults in the United States and 16% of adults in Canada — almost 96 million people — have pre-diabetes. Even riskier, a whopping 84% don’t know it.
Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal and a precursor to type 2 diabetes. If left unchecked, 25% of people with pre-diabetes will be diagnosed with diabetes within 3-5 years.
Regular exercise and eating a diet low in added sugar are two of the best healthier habits to prevent and manage diabetes and heart disease. Plus they have a vast number of positive outcomes for your physical and mental health.
Particularly if you have a family history of diabetes, talk with your primary care physician or chat real-time with a registered nurse right in the League app. Together you’ll discuss what testing might be right for you, ways to help reduce your risk and how you can keep as healthy as possible. Staying on top of the proper annual lab tests for your unique history is key to managing risk and living healthier.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
Men have an understandably complex relationship with erectile dysfunction (ED). It can affect more than just your sex life and have profound impacts on your mental health, communication with your spouse or partner, and self-image.
ED can be related to other conditions. In some cases, it can be caused by stress or anxiety. For other cases, ED is caused by a lack of blood flow due to unhealthy blood vessels, which can also be an indicator of underlying heart disease.
Conversations about ED can be awkward, and most men tend to put them off. Overcoming the initial discomfort and confiding in your doctor or care provider will not only help you get to the bottom of how ED is affecting you, but be a positive step toward improving your quality of life, relationships and overall health.
Preventing High Blood Pressure
Prostate and testicular cancer
Aside from non-melanoma skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB). While it’s true that prostate cancer risk does increase as you age, younger men are also diagnosed with prostate cancer.
As with any cancer, early detection can be life-saving. When you hit age 50 or if you’re already older, ask your primary care provider about prostate cancer testing and what your personal plan should be.
While prostate cancer risk increases with age, testicular cancer is the #1 cancer among younger men. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 39, it’s essential to learn the signs of testicular cancer and check your testicles regularly.
Cancer considerations for transgender women and non-binary folks
For transgender women, non-binary people or anyone assigned male at birth (AMAB), advice from the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai is to be aware of your particular cancer risks no matter how you might have chosen to physically transition.
Even people who’ve had gender-affirmation surgery typically still have a prostate, and that means there’s an associated cancer risk, and you should follow the same age guidelines for prostate cancer screenings as anyone else.
Plus, if you’ve undergone hormone therapy, you will still likely benefit from certain tests to screen for cancer, but talking to your doctor about your unique situation is always best.
Talk it out
If you identify as a man and you’re ready to start putting more of your health first, making an appointment with your family doctor is an important first step. If you don’t have a primary care physician, chat with us and we can help you find the right one for you.
Be sure to talk openly about your family’s medical history and how you can plan when to start screening for preventable diseases.
Above all, whether you’re a man yourself or have someone in your life who you want to make sure is taking good care of their health, the more that we openly talk about men’s physical and mental health, the easier it will be to detect problems early on. Together, we can support ourselves and the men in our lives to be healthier and happier.