When it comes to their health, men are notoriously apathetic about looking after themselves. But times they are a changin' and recent research would suggest that finally men are facing up to their health issues.

When it comes to their health, men are notoriously apathetic about looking after themselves. But times they are a changin' and recent research would suggest that finally men are facing up to their health issues.

Here we describe a few of the health issues that might concern men at some pint in their lives.

Erectile Dysfunction

This is when a man cannot achieve a full erection. This can happen to any man at least occasionally in his sexual lifetime for plenty of simple reasons and is absolutely nothing to fret about. If it is happening frequently you should seek information and advice from a professional. There are many possible reasons for this happening, both physical and psychological.

Possible physical causes: diabetes, disease of the nervous system, aging, chronic alcohol abuse, side effects of certain drugs (prescriptive and illegal) and injury.
Psychological causes are very common and these include: tiredness, depression, anxiety, stress, relationship problems and performance anxiety.

Experiencing erectile dysfunction at any time for any reason can mean a huge blow to the self-esteem and to your identity as a certain kind of man. If you experience it, you should talk to the partner you are with and explain what you think is happening. This may well be frightening and cringe-worthy but it will be a lot more awkward if he/she has no clue.

Hair Loss

Hair may start to disappear from the temples and the crown of the head at any time. For a few men this process starts as early as the later teenage years, but for most it happens in their late 20s and early 30s. A little thinning of the hair may be noticeable first, followed by wider hair loss allowing more of the scalp to become visible.

Some men aren't troubled by this process at all. Others, however, suffer great emotional distress associated with a lack of self-confidence and sometimes depression.
In male pattern baldness, which tends to be inherited, the hair is usually lost at the temples and the crown. This happens because of an excess of a chemical called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, which causes the hair follicles to make thinner and thinner hair until they eventually pack up completely.

Other causes of hair loss include:

  • iron-deficiency anaemia
  • under active thyroid
  • fungal scalp infection
  • some prescribed medicines
  • stress

These are usually reversible.Treatments include wigs and hair, herbal preparations, minoxidil, finasteride (Propecia) which is the latest drug treatment.

Premature Ejaculation

This happens when a man ejaculates earlier than he or probably his partner would like and it can happen during foreplay or shortly after sex has begun. Premature ejaculation can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be physical but it's far more likely to be psychological. Performance anxiety can be at the bottom of this issue as well, as can relationship fears, stress, feeling of pressure, fears of female partner getting pregnant, getting an STI etc. It seems to be less likely to occur with couples who know each other well, who are more comfortable with one another.

If it keeps happening, you can see a doctor and if there?s a physical cause they will suggest a treatment for you. They might also suggest techniques if there's a psychological root. Some of these techniques include stop/start (where you stop or slow down considerably as you feel yourself nearing ejaculation and when you calm down a bit you start again); and learning to relax regarding sex by not always having intercourse and instead concentrating on foreplay.

Testicular Cancer

This is a rare enough cancer but is still the second most common type in men aged 15 - 34. In most cases, the exact reason for it is not known but some men have been identified as higher risk - men with undescended testes or testes that did not descend until some time after birth; men who have had a close relative with the cancer; and men who have had the cancer before. It is not caused by any sexual or lifestyle practice or injury.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling, which is often painless, found in one of the testicles. Sometimes the scrotum may feel heavy and look swollen. Other symptoms may occur if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and these include backache, 'breast' tenderness, stomachache, shortness of breath or a painless lump in the neck. Bear in mind though that most of these symptoms have a different cause that is not cancer.

Treatment is very successful, especially the earlier the cancer is discovered. Testicular cancer should not affect your sex life or your fertility. Cancer in both testicles is rare and if one testicle had to be removed the other should compensate.

Every month you should examine yourself after a warm bath or shower. By rolling your testicles between thumb and finger you can spot any changes or any lumps. Don't panic if you find something unusual. Just go to your doctor to get it checked out but chances are it's not cancer.


For Further Information

Everyman Centre
www.everymancentre.ie
Irish Cancer Society
www.cancer.ie