Last week, we explored the most common health concerns for women. Men have their own unique set of health challenges that originate from perceived masculinity. People learn very early that women outlive men. However, as the years pass, the time span that women outlive men by is ever increasing. It shifted from about a one-year gap in the 1920s to over five years today. When the most common causes of death are considered, men’s’ health concerns are thrown in a harsh light. Of the top ten rates of death in the United States, men die at higher rates for all of them.
Men face a unique problem when it comes to health issues. After being told to “man up” all their lives, men have a tendency to try and “tough it out”. As a result, they ignore symptoms, or simply wait for them to go away. Due to this, men tend to be underdiagnosed and do not receive life saving treatment that is readily available. Some men go years, or even decades without seeing a physician or other medical professional.
Society teaches men to hide their emotions and limit any positive emotional release. This leads to much higher rates of mental illness, particularly depression. It is probably one of the main reasons that males die earlier than females. It also leads to boys dropping out of school at a higher rate than girls, and when they stay in school, they have more difficulty staying organized and completing work. The most troubling statistic, however, is that men are four times more likely to fall victim to suicide than women. Depression presents in many different ways for men.
- Anger and aggression issues cause them to lash out at the people closest to them.
- Substance abuse and alcoholism develop as a way to suppress or escape difficult emotions.
- Increased risk-taking behavior, commonly referred to as a “midlife crisis”. Usually stems from their life feeling empty or meaningless.
Prostate cancer, much like breast cancer in women, is the most common cancer found in males. It is the second deadliest cancer, placing only behind lung cancer (which is the deadliest type of cancer for men and women). Prostate cancer can be extremely dangerous because it is a silent killer. Patients typically do not show signs of prostate cancer until it has spread through a significant portion of the body. This is why regular prostate exams are so important for men, particularly as they get older. Prostate cancer is more usual in older males, but the younger a man is, the more aggressive the tumor is.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to diagnose prostate cancer. One of the reasons is the exam to check the prostate is considered embarrassing for most men. Additionally, the symptoms of prostate cancer may be considered humiliating or “unmanly”.
- Blood in urine or seminal fluid
- Issues with urination; needing to go frequently or struggling to empty the bladder entirely.
- Problems performing sexually, primarily erectile dysfunction.