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DR ELLIE CANNON: Don’t be one of the 80 percent of men who would rather be sick than admit a problem

Is the cliché true – are men reluctant to talk to doctors about their health? Surveys paint a depressing picture: Up to 80 percent of men surveyed by Bupa recently said they would rather endure an illness than seek help.

In my own operation, men under the age of 40 are an unusual sight. Although we get more middle-aged boys, often to undergo a heart health check, I would say two-thirds of my patients are generally women. There are many reasons for this.

Women are more used to seeing doctors, as they have often gone through the process of having a baby, with all the checkups and visits that take place before, during, and years after. Regular screening for cervical cancer from the mid-20s and middle-aged breast cancer is another reason.

And no doubt some men feel the pressure to “be a man” and not talk about their problems. Nowhere is this more evident than with ’embarrassing’ ailments.

Up to 80 percent of the men surveyed by Bupa recently said they would rather endure an illness than seek help

Up to 80 percent of the men surveyed by Bupa recently said they would rather endure an illness than seek help

“Physical things around genitals are something most guys have a hard time talking about,” said Jim Pollard of the Men’s Health Forum. “These things are linked to notions of masculinity – and men don’t like being in a doctor’s office and admitting they don’t know what’s going on.”

The most important thing to remember, like Dr. Kaye has already noted on the previous pages about women’s health, is that we GPs have seen all this before.

Men can and will always come to see me with these things – and of course, if you prefer to speak to a male doctor, we understand that.

In the meantime, here’s my guide to coping with the male conditions that you may be shy to talk about – but really don’t have to.

THE QUESTION MEN MOST QUESTION GOOGLE BUT NOT ME

Suicide risk in men who don’t want to talk

Men commit suicide significantly more often than women because they have difficulty admitting that they need help.

For many men, mental health problems remain a taboo, despite attempts to publicize problems such as anxiety and depression.

Jim Pollard, founder of the Men’s Health Forum, says, “I find it embarrassing for men to say,” I don’t think I can handle it. ‘

Mental health charities, such as Heads Together, founded in 2016 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pictured, and Prince Harry encourage men to speak out

Mental health charities, such as Heads Together, founded in 2016 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pictured, and Prince Harry encourage men to speak out

Mental health charities, such as Heads Together, founded in 2016 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, pictured, and Prince Harry encourage men to speak out

“A man told me he would rather admit that he couldn’t get up than admit that he was struggling mentally.”

In recent years, mental health charities, such as Heads Together, founded in 2016 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, have encouraged men to speak out.

Despite this, three-quarters of suicides are male. Nearly 5,000 committed suicide in 2018, compared to 1,604 women. According to the Samaritans, the highest suicide rate among men ages 45 to 49 and the largest killer among men under age 35.

“Women are more likely to seek treatment,” says Jim. “We have confidential and anonymous chat services for men’s mental and physical health problems, and in both cases, the doctors said they were talking about problems that never came up in normal operations.”

A Samaritan spokesman added, “Suicide is rarely caused by one thing. There are a variety of psychological, social, cultural and economic factors that influence suicide risk. ‘

For support, call the free 24-hour helpline of the Samaritans at 116 123.

According to search engine data, it is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding men’s sexual health: what are the spots on my penis?

Sexually transmitted diseases are common, but they are also easy to sort. However, I often see a patient worrying unnecessarily – or worse, trying to treat themselves – when the problem is completely benign.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Small raised bumps along the shaft of the penis that are light red, yellowish white, or skin colored are usually what we call Fordyce spots or grains.

They can also appear on the scrotum and lips, but they are completely harmless oil-secreting glands in the skin and there is no reason to do anything about it. There are plenty of home remedies for sale on the internet, but they do nothing at best and damage the skin at worst. Avoid them.

Small white spots around the head of the penis, known as pearly papules, are also completely harmless, and about a third of men have them. It’s also not uncommon to get tiny red pimples, also known as septic spots, that just disappear after a week.

Genital warts are common – about 57,000 men get them every year. The color depends on your skin color, but the characteristic appearance is of a ‘wobbly’ projection – like a small piece of seaweed.

They are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is also linked to cervical, throat, and anal cancers.

Genital warts are highly contagious and can be transmitted through sex, but the number has fallen due to the roll-out of a vaccine against the virus offered to teenage girls (and boys since September).

Spots that look more like sores – but are usually painless – can be syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can also cause a rash on the hands and feet.

I know that Dr. Google has diagnosed penile cancer, which is related to the HPV virus, but it affects only 640 men a year in the UK.

WHAT CAN I DO?

If you want to spare yourself the worry, see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.

Your doctor or a local sexual health clinic can test for STIs and prescribe treatment – antibiotics for syphilis and a cream or minor surgery to burn, laser, or freeze genital warts. And if you’re treated and the symptoms persist, go back to the doctor.

MYSTIFYING SCAR TISSUE CAUSES SEX PROBLEMS

Bodies come in different shapes and sizes – and penises are no different.

Most men will worry at some point that their own isn’t ‘normal’, but it’s time to notice if there’s a clear change – for example, a more noticeable bend or even an hourglass shape.

This could be a sign of the usually harmless condition of Peyronie’s disease. Normally noticeable only when standing upright, if any of these are accompanied by painful erections or erectile dysfunction it should be monitored.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Experts are still a bit stumped, but the change in shape is the result of scar tissue or plaques developing in the shaft. In some cases, it happens after an injury sustained during sexual activity.

It is also relatively common, affecting up to one in ten men, and is most common in people age 50 and older. It can also run in families.

While not harmful, it can be emotionally disturbing, especially if it affects sexual relationships, which can have a huge impact on mental health.

WHAT CAN I DO?

It can improve by itself. But take advice from a primary care doctor or sexual health clinic. There are a few possible treatments, including injecting steroids or using ultrasound, but there is only limited evidence that this works.

A change in penis shape is the result of scar tissue and while not harmful it can be emotionally disturbing especially if it affects sexual relationships

A change in penis shape is the result of scar tissue and while not harmful it can be emotionally disturbing especially if it affects sexual relationships

A change in penis shape is the result of scar tissue and while not harmful it can be emotionally disturbing especially if it affects sexual relationships

For example, if the shape change is severe and makes sexual intercourse impossible, surgery to cut out the penis or implant a device to straighten the penis is a last resort.

Consultant urologist Asif Muneer tells me that some patients find it easier to take pictures of the problem to avoid embarrassment when they seek help. “When I started out, people brought in blurry polaroids,” he said. “Thanks to mobile phone cameras, I can now get a better idea of ​​the problem.”

WHEN THE LOCATION OF A LUMP IS EVERYTHING

A lump in the testicles doesn’t always mean cancer, despite what Dr. Google suggests.

Of every 100 men who find such growth, 96 will discover that it has a completely harmless cause. And often it may not require treatment at all.

Any change needs to be checked by a doctor immediately, but there are a slew of benign conditions that are more likely than cancer.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Any lump behind or on top of the testicle can be an epididymal cyst – a harmless growth filled with fluid.

It is more common in people over the age of 40 and rarely needs treatment.

This is diagnosed by a doctor who shines a special light through the scrotum. If it is an epididymal cyst, the light will shine through the fluid, if it is cancer, it will not.

Other common lumps include varicose veins, swollen veins, like varicose veins in the legs, and hydration, where fluid builds up around the testicle.

An infection known as epididymo orchitis, which makes the testicles painful and swollen, is the only problem that may need to be treated with antibiotics.

But Robert Cornes, a specialist nurse at Orchid, a male cancer charity, says that as a general rule of thumb, consider whether every small, hard lump attached to the testicle should be checked if it’s an early sign of testicular cancer.

WHAT CAN I DO?

While most lumps will be completely benign, you should see a doctor, Mr. Cornes insists.

“A quick investigation will tell us what’s going on and if not, an ultrasound on the testicle will be about 99 percent accurate.”

It’s also worth remembering that testicular cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if it’s caught early, with a ten-year survival rate at 98 percent.

WHAT CAUSES THESE MOZBS TO GROW?

It’s the last thing men want to talk about. But weight gain around the chest area – sometimes described as “man boobs” or “moobs” – affects as many as 70 percent of men over the age of 50.

Weight gain around the chest area - sometimes described as 'man boobs' or 'moobs' - affects as many as 70 percent of men over the age of 50

Weight gain around the chest area - sometimes described as 'man boobs' or 'moobs' - affects as many as 70 percent of men over the age of 50

Weight gain around the chest area – sometimes described as ‘man boobs’ or ‘moobs’ – affects as many as 70 percent of men over the age of 50

WHAT CAN IT BE?

The clinical name is gynecomastia and is generally harmless. But it can be uncomfortable, chafing and tenderness, and lead to feelings of depression and isolation. It generally develops because of a hormonal imbalance between testosterone and estrogen. When men stack on the pounds later in life, the extra body fat leads to an increase in estrogen.

Testosterone levels, which control normal estrogen, also decrease with age. Both can cause breast tissue to develop. In rarer cases, it can be a symptom of liver cirrhosis, testicular cancer, renal failure, or an overactive thyroid gland, or a side effect of medication for an enlarged prostate or antipsychotics.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Most men do not need to seek treatment. Losing weight can help. In some cases, usually in men who are otherwise slim, medications can help suppress excess estrogen.

Are you struggling to perform? Have your diabetes checked

All men will occasionally have or maintain an erection. This does not mean that there is a serious or permanent problem.

Studies have shown that around 4.3 million men in the UK – one in five – suffer from erectile dysfunction regularly, and it is thought to affect half of all men over 50.

Most men prefer not to talk to their doctor or their partner about it. And yet the potential is very easy to solve.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Stress, fatigue, anxiety, or drinking too much alcohol are the most common causes of an intermittent problem.

But an erection also depends on healthy circulation, so in some cases it can be an early sign of more serious – but treatable – conditions like heart problems or diabetes.

Men with diabetes are three times more likely to have erection problems, and it is very common for patients to come to clinics to seek help with impotence, only to discover that they have diabetes.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Erection problems can be easily treated with medications such as Viagra, which increase blood flow to the penis.

It is available to buy in pharmacies without a prescription, but the pharmacist wants a good discussion about your health history first. For example, men who have previously had a stroke or heart attack should not take Viagra.

Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may be advised to lose weight or take medications to lower blood sugar, and if there is a sign of cardiovascular disease, a statin may be offered to lower cholesterol. This in itself can help. You may also be tested for your testosterone level.

Don’t be tempted to buy Viagra online – in 2016 alone, £ 17 million of unlicensed or counterfeit Viagra was seized. At best they don’t do anything, but at worst they can be dangerous.

“See your doctor – don’t self-diagnose – and have your overall health checked,” says Jim Pollard of the Men’s Health Forum.

NIGHT TOILET RIDES CAN BE A WARNING

Stumbling into the toilet in the middle of the night is nothing out of the ordinary, especially after a few pints in the pub.

It is often related to the progressive years and is likely to deteriorate with age.

But if it happens several times a night on a regular basis, the need becomes more urgent, and if it affects the quality of sleep, it may be worthwhile to see a doctor.

WHAT CAN IT BE?

Chances are it’s no more than an enlarged prostate – the walnut-sized gland under the bladder that produces sperm.

According to NICE, 40 percent of men in their 50s – rising to 90 percent in their 80s – have the condition.

It is a completely normal side effect of aging.

However, it puts extra pressure on the bladder, causing men to urinate more often.

Men may be concerned that this means they have an increased risk of prostate cancer, but this is not true.

What’s important is that the symptoms are checked to rule out prostate cancer, which affects one in eight men.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Orchid nurse Robert Cornes: “Your GP should refer you to a consultant urologist.”

This appointment may require a rectal exam and a blood test known as a PSA test that, while unreliable, may suggest whether cancer is more likely.

Treatment for an enlarged prostate can include simple lifestyle changes, such as drinking less alcohol and caffeine and exercising more.

Medication can reduce the size of the prostate and relax the bladder, but in more severe cases – where medications don’t work – surgery may be recommended.

Even if the prostate is cancer, aggressive treatment may not be necessary, as the tumors generally grow slowly.

THE INTIMATE INFECTION YOU SHOULD NOT IGNORE

Penile discharge, outside of sexual activity, is never normal. If you notice this, it is probably the sign of an infection. The good news is that such infections are very easy to treat, so don’t delay seeing a doctor.

WHAT CAUSES IT?

White discharge indicates chlamydia, the most diagnosed STI in the UK. It is transmitted through unprotected sex and mainly affects young people aged 15 to 24, but more and more middle-aged men are affected. It can be accompanied by painful urination or painful testicles.

Green discharge is a sign of gonorrhea. It also causes inflammation of the foreskin and a burning sensation when urinating.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Both conditions are treated with antibiotics. Visit your local sexual health clinic to see a doctor and get a prescription. You can also seek help from an online NHS sexual health clinic. They may offer you the option of a self-swab, which you can do and send at home, as well as remote treatment.

Meanwhile, to avoid passing it on, don’t have unprotected sex, because these infections can seriously affect a woman’s fertility.

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