Novem­ber is Men’s Health Aware­ness Month and the Movem­ber Foun­da­tion uses the month to bring aware­ness to and sup­port of those tack­ling prostate can­cer, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, men­tal health, and sui­cide. June is Men’s Health Month; the pur­pose is to height­en the aware­ness of pre­ventable health prob­lems and encour­age ear­ly detec­tion and treat­ment of dis­ease among men and boys. The fol­low­ing are rec­om­men­da­tions that are sup­port­ed by evi­dence from schol­ar­ly jour­nals and pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions and asso­ci­a­tions to improve men’s health.

Through­out the world, women live longer than men, although this gap varies tremen­dous­ly in less devel­oped coun­tries. Accord­ing to the CIA World Fact­book, in the Unit­ed States, aver­age longevi­ty for women is 82.2 years for women and 77.2 years for men, a five-year gap.  Many men have the men­tal­i­ty of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” so if they can­not see or feel an exter­nal stim­u­lus, they will think there is noth­ing ever wrong.  A major­i­ty of men are just not aware of what they can do to improve their health and live health­i­er and hap­pi­er lives.

At a very least, get vac­ci­nat­ed. Every­one needs immu­niza­tions to stay healthy, no mat­ter their age. Even if you were vac­ci­nat­ed as a child, you may need updates because immu­ni­ty can fade with time. Vac­cine rec­om­men­da­tions are based on a range of fac­tors, includ­ing age, over­all health, and your med­ical his­to­ry. Ask your health care provider or a phar­ma­cist about the rec­om­mend­ed vaccinations.

Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health begin­ning at age 20 and beyond

  • Get an annu­al phys­i­cal exam by your pri­ma­ry care provider, includ­ing blood pres­sure, and height/weight checks.
  • Annu­al­ly screen for tes­tic­u­lar can­cer that includes month­ly self-exams.
  • Have cho­les­terol test­ing every five years.
  • Screen for dia­betes, thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, and anemia.
  • Depend­ing on risk fac­tors, screen for skin can­cer, sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted dis­eases and HIV infec­tion, and alco­hol and drug misuse.
  • At 30, screen for coro­nary heart dis­ease, espe­cial­ly with a strong fam­i­ly his­to­ry of the dis­ease and/or risk factors.
  • At 40, screen for thy­roid dis­ease, liv­er prob­lems, ane­mia, and prostate cancer.
  • At 50, screen for cho­les­terol every five years; annu­al­ly screen for Type II dia­betes; lipid dis­or­ders; and skin, colon, and lung can­cer. Obtain a shin­gles vaccine.
  • At 60, screen for depres­sion, osteo­poro­sis, demen­tia, Alzheimer’s dis­ease, and abdom­i­nal aor­tic aneurysm. Have a carotid artery ultrasound.
  • At 70, depend­ing on pre­vi­ous find­ings, some screen­ings may be done every six months.

Rec­om­men­da­tions for men’s health regard­less of age

  • Men have more dif­fi­cul­ty han­dling stress than women, par­tial­ly because women have bet­ter social net­works and more friends with whom then can con­fide. Thus, men should seek out more friends, whether they are male or female.
  • Laugh­ter increas­es endor­phins, there­by increas­ing longevi­ty. Get a sense of humor and engage with oth­ers with whom you can laugh.
  • Avoid tobac­co prod­ucts and non-pre­scrip­tive drugs.
  • Avoid exces­sive sun exposure.
  • Research the reli­a­bil­i­ty of vit­a­mins or herbs before start­ing them. Make sure it is rec­om­mend­ed by pro­fes­sion­als, not just the man­u­fac­tur­er of the item.
  • Don’t become a worka­holic; it increas­es stress and can lead to health con­cerns such as hyper­ten­sion and weight gain. Get a hob­by that helps you decrease stress, exer­cise in the man­ner you pre­fer, and seek help with diet to main­tain a desir­able weight.
  • Men, espe­cial­ly young men, are known for engag­ing in risky behav­iors. Wear seat­belts, hel­mets when rid­ing bicy­cles or motor­cy­cles, don’t text or talk on the tele­phone when dri­ving, and avoid friends who encour­age illic­it drug use and high alco­hol consumption.
  • If sex­u­al­ly active, get test­ed reg­u­lar­ly for sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tions. You might think you are safe if you engage in sex­u­al activ­i­ty with only one per­son, but that per­son might be hav­ing sex­u­al rela­tions with oth­ers, a con­cept called ser­i­al monogamy.
  • The Guttmach­er Insti­tute reports that some boys start hav­ing sex at the age of 10 and that num­ber increas­es each year until by the age of 20, 75 per­cent of men and boys engage sex­u­al activ­i­ty by the age of 20. There­fore, start safe-sex edu­ca­tion at home and in school begin­ning at age of 10.

Dis­claimer: The Men’s Health Aware­ness views expressed here are sole­ly those of the author(s) and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly rep­re­sent or reflect the views of Excel­sior Col­lege, its trustees, offi­cers, or employees.

By Lar­ry Pur­nell, PhD, RN, FAAN

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