Other than general health matters, specific men's health issues fall broadly into two areas:
- Sexual health/reproductive issues
- Certain types of cancer
Men can also experience difficulty with weight loss - particularly as they tend to have trouble opening up about weight issues.
Sexual health/reproductive issues
This can cover a range of areas, from impotence, erectile disfunction, genital health and increasing the chances of your partner conceiving.
See here for more information.
Two types of cancer that occur only in men are testicular and prostate cancer.
Around half of all cases of testicular cancer occur in men aged under 35 but testicular cancer rarely occurs before puberty. It is the most common cancer in men aged 15-44 years. There are about 2,000 new cases in the UK each year.
Almost all testicular cancers are classed as germ cell cancers, as the cells which become cancerous are those involved with making sperm.
What causes testicular cancer?
In many cases, testicular cancer develops for no apparent reason. However, certain risk factors increase the chance that testicular cancer may develop. These include:
- Geography. The highest rate of testicular cancer occurs in white men in northern Europe. So, some genetic or environmental factor may be involved. 'Genetic' means that the condition is passed on through families through special codes inside cells called genes.
- Family history. Brothers and sons of affected men have an increased risk.
- Undescended testicles (testes). The testes develop in the tummy (abdomen) and usually move down (descend) into the scrotum before birth. Some babies are born with one or both testes which have not come down into the scrotum. This can be fixed by a small operation. There is a large increased risk in men who have not had their undescended testis surgically fixed. There is still some increased risk in men who had an undescended testis fixed when they were a baby.
- Infertility. Infertile men with an abnormal sperm count have a slight increased risk.
- Klinefelter's syndrome.
- HIV/AIDS. Men who have HIV or AIDS have an increased risk.
The prostate gland is only found in men, just beneath the bladder and its function is to produce fluid which protects and enriches sperm.
The prostate often gets bigger gradually after the age of about 50, so that by the age of 70, about eight in 10 men have an enlarged prostate. It is common for older men to have urinary symptoms caused by a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. Some men also develop prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Each year, about 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK. It affects about 1 in 8 men in the UK at some point in their life. Most cases develop in men over the age of 65.
Prostate cancer is different to most other cancers because small areas of cancer within the prostate are actually very common, especially in older men. These may not grow or cause any problems for many years (if at all).
Although the exact cause is unclear, certain risk factors increase the chance that prostate cancer may develop. These include:
- Ageing. Most cases occur in older men.
- Family history and genetic factors. If your father or brother had prostate cancer at a relatively early age (before they were 60) then you have an increased risk. Also, if the type of breast cancer which is linked to a faulty gene runs in your female relatives, then you are at increased risk of prostate cancer. These factors point towards a faulty gene which may occur in some men.
- Ethnic group. Prostate cancer is more common in African-Caribbean men and less common in Asian men.
- Diet is possibly a risk factor. As with other cancers, a diet high in fats and low in fruit and vegetables may increase the risk.
- Exposure to the metal cadmium may be a risk.
See the section on weight management, particularly on Weight Watchers referral.