It’s well-known that men frequent the GP less than women and this is why there are a number of health campaigns out there aimed at men specifically, in order to encourage them to take their health into their own hands and to know what’s normal and abnormal. One of these campaigns is Movember. Now, Movember has three main causes. The first is prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the UK in men. And the prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits between the penis and the bladder and its aim is to produce the fluid that sperm swim in. Now, the symptoms of prostate cancer can be tricky because in a lot of people, they get no symptoms at all. But sometimes, if the prostate gets big enough, it can impede on the flow of urine and that can result in a problem with passing urine. It can be a bit more strained. You may notice the flow being a bit more difficult, maybe having to pass urine more frequently to empty your bladder fully, or maybe you get a bit of dribble at the end. If you do get any of those symptoms, you do need to speak to your doctor. Your doctor might be able to help diagnose this by doing an examination physically of the prostate, perhaps they’ll do a blood test called a PSA, or they might refer you to a urologist, who’ll do a biopsy or an MRI. Now, there are a number of things that can increase your risk of getting prostate cancer, but the main one is age. It increase as age increases. But we also know that a family history is relevant, as well as being Afro-Caribbean, as that also slightly increases your risk. The second cause that Movember supports is testicular cancer. This is a rarer cancer but it often occurs in younger men. The main symptoms are usually a painless lump within the testicle but it may just manifest as a change in the shape of the testicle or a swelling to the testicle. If you have any of these, you see your GP, who will examine you and they may ask for an ultrasound scan or potentially even some blood tests. You’ll then be referred in for possibly a biopsy. There are a number of things that increase your risk of getting testicular cancer, but the main one is an undescended testicle, so this is where it hasn’t come down fully after birth. Another risk factor is family history. And we also note that it’s a higher risk in Caucasian men. The final cause that Movember supports is mental health and suicide prevention and that’s because 75% of the UK suicides are in men and we believe that that’s because they’re less likely to seek support and also more likely to use more destructive measures to help themselves, like alcohol and drugs. Now, if you are really struggling with your mental health, I think the most important thing to do is to open up, talk about it, find trusted friends, colleagues, relatives that you’re willing to open to and don’t bottle it all up inside. If you’re worried about speaking to someone you know, do just speak to your GP, who’ll be able to put you in touch with the right psychological therapist for you. Also do things that make you feel better. I know when you’re in a low place, it’s really hard to get the motivation to see your friends, do hobbies, eat well, exercise, but those are all things that are going to make you feel better, both physically and mentally. Also avoid alcohol and drugs. Again, they make you feel better in the short run, but in the long run, they will do you more harm than they’ll help. Do some research. Go online, find support groups, look at books, apps, and find different coping mechanisms to manage your own moods. Finally, get rest. Don’t feel ashamed to say to work that you need to take time off. Don’t feel worried or sad about telling friends that you can’t make it to certain engagements. Take that time for you time, for a bit of self-love, and for a bit of relaxation, sleep, acupuncture, yoga, whatever it is that will make you feel good.

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