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Beyond the mustache: Men’s health in the focus of “Movember”

Movember is a month to focus on men’s health issues, as indicated by growing a mustache.

Raising awareness of these issues is especially important because traditional male gender roles include stoicism in the face of pain and reluctance to talk about or even admit medical problems or concerns for fear of appearing unmanly, says Dr. Schalk V Burger, clinical trainer at Ken Health , the leading online health application.

“Men are more likely to internalize their problems, compared to women who are more open to sharing their problems and seeking help,” Dr. Burger says.

“Specifically, it is more difficult for men to seek help for mental and emotional problems, as well as sexual health. For the most part, women have benefited more from advances in medical care than men, with men’s life expectancy lagging well behind women (76 vs. 80 in the United States and 59.46 vs. 65 in South Africa).”

dr. Burger says some of the critical men’s health issues that should be highlighted during Movember and beyond include:

Mental health. South Africans are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems thanks to the country’s persistent socio-economic problems such as unemployment. South Africa’s high suicide rates disproportionately affect men—10,861 of the 13,774 reported suicides in South Africa in 2019 were men.

“One of our main goals should be to help remove the stigma associated with seeking help with mental health problems,” comments Dr. Burger.

“Kena Health’s app-based approach makes it easy for men to reach a mental health professional in a highly confidential manner.”

Prostate and testicular health.

Prostate and testicular cancer are the leading causes of death in men, with testicular cancer rates doubling in the past five years and prostate cancer affecting one in 23 men in South Africa. Men of African descent are more prone to both of these cancers.

Younger men are at greater risk of testicular cancer and should therefore make self-examination part of their routine; in contrast, prostate cancer affects older men, so an annual PSA blood test is recommended for men over the age of 50.

Both cancers have a reasonable cure rate, provided they are diagnosed early.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STIs):

STIs are a significant threat to men and their partners and can contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Men must be educated about safe sexual practices and how to recognize the symptoms. If left untreated, STIs can lead to serious complications later in life.

Cardiovascular health:

Cardiovascular diseases affect the heart and blood vessels.

They are the main cause of adverse health conditions and death, and are usually affected by fatty deposits in the arteries and an increased risk of blood clots, which can lead to stroke.

Annual preventive screenings for blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol are recommended, followed by a physical examination if indicated.

“Lifestyle choices can play a big role in preventing heart attack and stroke, so a healthy diet with adequate exercise is something all men should make a priority,” says Dr. Burger. Exercise and diet also play a role in addressing other health issues, including mental health, he adds.

Alongside these priority health issues for men, he argues that a significant driver of the Movember movement should be to help build a supportive community, with networks where men can voice concerns and fears to their peers – as well as friends and family.

“The right kind of support is essential in helping men overcome the mental and social barriers to taking control of their health. Access to quality health care is also important, and that’s where technology-based innovators like Kena Health are making a big difference, not only by lowering costs but also by making it easy to talk to health professionals in complete confidentiality from the comfort of your phone—and then schedule physicals. examinations when they are needed,” concludes Dr. Burger.

“Movember has a big part to play in setting the agenda, but it’s up to all of us to make sure it continues throughout the year.”

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