Movember is just around the corner, so it’s time to muster your moustaches, amigos! Although most of us are well aware of the brilliant Movember initiative, it’s important to keep reminding men in your life about the importance of regular check-ups and proper self-care. This is why we have prepared a short Movember guide for you – 5 steps to keeping your health and check and spreading awareness across the moustache-growing population. Without any further ado, let’s get down to business!
Table of Contents
What is Movember?
It’s good to start with a few words of explanation, for those of us who are either new to the cause or have some vague idea of what’s it about but want to learn some more.
“Movember” is an initiative started by a few bros over a beer in a pub in Melbourne, Australia. They came to the conclusion that men are facing a health crisis that is too rarely talked about. Due to the lack of an early enough diagnosis, many men of all ages, including devastatingly young, die yearly of prostate and testicular cancer. Men tend to be avoidant and aloof about their health far more often than women, believing they need to be “tough”, which leads to the problems going undiagnosed for far too long.
And it’s not only about physical health – the Movember bros noticed a huge issue with how men handle their mental health as well. Did you know that in the UK suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50?! It’s time to stop treating the topic as taboo and start fighting for your health.
Now, you may ask – how can I do it? Let us help you!
Step 1: Get your prostate in check
The statistics are disturbing – every day in the UK 33 men die because of prostate cancer. It’s the most common type of cancer found in males across the country, and it’s estimated that 1 in 6 men will develop it in their lifetime. There is a silver lining, though – early detection allows the beast to be treated before it becomes a life-threatening situation.
Prostate cancer develops slowly and may not give any symptoms for a long time. Even then, they are pretty non-specific and easy to brush off:
- an increased need to pee
- straining while you pee
- feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
What can you do to get your prostate in check?
- See if you are at risk. Prostate cancer is the most prevalent in men who are over 50, with the numbers peaking around 65. You are also at higher risk if you have a family history of prostate cancer (father, brother) or breast cancer (sister, mother). Finally, Black men get prostate cancer more often than any other ethnicity.
- If you are at risk, talk with your GP. They will recommend an appropriate course of action, such as periodic checkups.
- If you notice any worrying symptoms, get them checked immediately. It may be just a bladder infection, but better safe than sorry. Prostate cancer detected early is perfectly curable!
- Eat healthily and move regularly. It’s not a magical medicine, but a really helpful factor regardless!
Step 2: Do regular testicular check-ups
While testicular cancer is less common than prostate cancer, it can affect men of much younger age. In fact, around 50% of men diagnosed with it are under 35! When diagnosed early, it has a 98% cure rate, and you can easily do self-checkups once a month which helps with early detection.
Testicular cancer may give symptoms such as:
- Hard lumps and rounded bumps in the testicular area
- Sudden changes in the size, shape or consistency of your testicles
- Pain that you cannot connect with a physical injury
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
What can you do to get your testicles in check?
- See if you are at risk. Testicular cancer occurs most frequently in young men (between 15 and 35) of the white race (four-fold greater risk of testicular cancer than either Black or Asian men). Other risk factors include an undescended testicle, a prior history of testicular cancer and HIV.
- Perform regular self-check-ups. Once a month is a good frequency!
- If you notice any irregularity, consult your doctor immediately. There is no need to panic, but better safe than sorry!
Step 3: Take care of your mental health
Statistics show that only 1 in 4 men is willing to talk to their close ones when they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Men have been traditionally expected to suppress their emotions, which results in a terrifying decline in their mental health. Men are unlikely to seek professional help (only 36% of referrals to Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies in the UK are men!), while their suicide rates are incredibly high – in fact, 76% of suicides in the UK are committed by men.
This is simply unacceptable. Movember bros are teaching us that it’s time to reject harmful stereotypes and learn to reach out for help. If you or your loved one is struggling, showcasing worrying symptoms of depression or the generalised anxiety disorder, such as:
- loss of interest in daily activities,
- appetite or sleep routine changes,
- anger or irritability,
- loss of energy,
- self-loathing, strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt,
- reckless behaviour, such as alcohol abuse,
- sense of impending danger, panic or even doom,
- feeling weak and constantly tired,
- problems with concentration,
- problems with thinking about anything other than the present worry,
- panic attacks,
- suicidal thoughts,
…then it’s time to help. Begin by simply reaching out to someone, a relative or a friend, someone you can trust. If you don’t have such a person or you would prefer to begin with someone you don’t know personally, call the helpline.
Regardless of the immediate help you receive, it’s best to contact a professional. Many people, especially men, try to deal with the illness on their own, as the sound of the word “psychiatrist” itself makes them feel like they are admitting their “weakness” or that they are “crazy”. This couldn’t be further from the truth! A psychiatrist will be able to properly examine your condition and recommend further proceedings. You will probably start therapy and, depending on the nature of your condition and its severity, may be prescribed drugs that will help you with overcoming the issue. Again, no need to panic there – you take pills for sick liver or heart, why would your brain be any different?
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness – quite the opposite. It’s taking responsibility and being strong enough to face the problem. Do not sacrifice your comfort, health and even life in the name of some old, stupid misconceptions.
Step 4: Talk with men in your life
Yes, it may be kinda awkward at first to talk with your friend, brother or father about health issues if you have never done it before. But it’s much more “awkward” to lose a loved one to a preventable illness, don’t you think?
There are too many people still who are unaware of the risks of prostate and testicular cancer, and/or are of the belief that the problem will disappear if you fail to acknowledge it. Become an ambassador for positive change and give the bros in your life a head-up. Furthermore, make sure to check on their mental health – if you notice a sudden or gradual change in their behaviour (apathy, fatigue, nervousness, emotional outbursts) and/or appearance (weight change, paleness, unhealthy skin colour), do not bury your head in the sand. Confront them, be there for them and help to seek professional assistance. You may just be saving their life.
Step 5: Grow a ‘stache and spread the word!
Want to celebrate Movember even more? Join the cause and get involved in one of the projects hosted by the Movember initiative. With the money raised thanks to them, the Movember crew has already funded groundbreaking health projects across mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer (1,250 so far!) and is still hungry for more. If you want to support them, you can either Grow a Mo, Move for Movember, Host a Mo-ment or Mo your own way. Your involvement is powerful and fuel for a change. So invite your friends, involve your social media, grow a dandy moustache and help to create a better world for generations of men to come!