Mary How Trust

Men's Health

Many of us know men - or are men! - who put off seeing their GP until a symptom has been lingering for weeks or even months.

And we know that in general men smoke more, drink more alcohol, and die younger than women.

But change is taking place.

"Swallow your pride and visit your GP. You have nothing to lose and life to gain." (Hugh Steven via Prostate Cancer UK)

More and more men are taking steps to make their lifestyle healthier, and visiting their GP if they have symptoms.

As well as taking steps to make your lifestyle healthier it’s important to check yourself regularly and have preventative health screenings.

Give yourself an MOT!

Read more about How We Can Help You with a health screening. Your Mary How Trust nurse will listen to your health concerns in a non-judgemental way, and offer you any advice you may need.

At-A-Glance Guide To Men's Health:


Male-Specific Cancers

Male-specific cancers include testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and penile cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the UK.

  • Men are more at risk of getting prostate cancer over 50, but some men in their 40s get it too. We offer a PSA test to all men aged 45+ as part of your Mary How Trust health screening.
  • Prostate cancer develops slowly, so you may not experience symptoms for several years. The PSA test can spot the early signs of the disease, even before you have symptoms.
  • Common symptoms of prostate cancer include:
    • Increased urge to urinate
    • Straining while urinating
    • Feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
  • Learn more about prostate cancer from Prostate Cancer UK

Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancer .

  • More than 96% of men with early stage testicular cancer will be completely cured.
  • Testicular cancer mainly affects men aged 15-45, and so you should check yourself regularly each month from your mid-teens to your late-40s.
  • This involves a simple set of checks that could save your life. There are great videos from Checkemlads on self-examination and how to do it.
  • If you quit smoking, you will halve your risk of developing testicular cancer – as well as reducing your risk of getting many other serious health conditions. Check out our Quit Smoking guide.
  • Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
    • Lump or enlargement in either testicle
    • Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
    • Dull ache in the abdomen or groin
    • Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
    • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
    • Englargement or tenderness of the breasts
    • Back pain
    • Remember: most testicular lumps are not cancer. But never ignore them!
  • Need a reminder to check yourself? Download the Ballchecker app from Testicular Cancer Society
  • More on testicular cancer from Orchid

Penile cancer is rare, and most often diagnosed in men aged 50-70.

  • In the UK about 550 men are diagnosed with cancer of the penis each year. (Source: NHS Choices)
  • The exact cause of penile cancer is unknown, but certain risk factors can increase the chance of developing the disease. Risk factors include:
    • Smoking (Our Quit Smoking guide may help you)
    • Having a tight foreskin
    • Some skin conditions if left untreated
    • HPV (human papilloma virus) - a common virus that can cause genital warts, which increase the risk of penile cancer
  • Symptoms usually appear on the skin of the penis or under the foreskin - it's important to be aware of what's normal for you. Go and see your GP if you notice any changes that worry you.
  • The symptoms to look out for include:
    • Growth of sore on the penis that doesn't heal within 4 weeks, and which may not be painful. (eg) a red, velvety patch or a wart-like growth
    • Bleeding from the penis or from under the foreskin
    • Foul-smelling discharge
    • Difficulty in drawing back the foreskin (phimosis)
    • Rash on the penis
    • Change in the colour of the penis or foreskin
    • Swollen lymph nodes at the top of the leg
  • You cannot pass penile cancer on to other people.
  • More on penile cancer from Orchid

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Did You Know..?

Over 50,000 men in the UK will be diagnosed with male-specific cancer in the next 12 months (source: Orchid)

Check yourself regularly - and never ignore symptoms! Most symptoms won't be cancer – but if something more serious is developing, early detection can stop it in its tracks.


Stress & Mental Health

It’s not unusual to feel sad, stressed, or anxious from time to time. If you’re feeling low, try to talk to your family or friends rather than bottling things up.

You may find our guide to the 7 Best Ways To Manage Stress helpful.

But if these feelings persist, it’s important to seek professional help. Your GP can diagnose depression and give advice on the best treatments for you – and s/he can also arrange referrals for counselling or other mental health services.

The prospect of talking to your GP about your mental health can be daunting. Check out these helpful tips from the University of Michigan’s Depression Toolkit: 13 Tips For Talking With Your Physician About Depression.

The following organisations provide vital help and also campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues.  Their websites are packed with excellent advice and information:

  • CALM - campaigning to prevent male suicide in the UK
  • Movember Foundation - helping men live happier, healthier, longer lives
  • Mind - working to improve the lives of all people with experience of mental health problems
  • Time To Change - campaigning for an end to mental health discrimination
  • Students Against Depression - offering information and resources validated by health professionals, alongside tips from students who have experienced it all themselves
  • Mental Health Foundation - campaigning for change and challenging the status quo. Offering support and advice.

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Did You Know..?

In 2017, as in previous years, male suicide accounted for three-quarters of all suicides. There is a downward trend in suicide rates for both men and women, and the UK male suicide rate is at its lowest since ONS reports began in 1981. However, suicide is the single most common cause of death in men under 49 in the UK. (Sources: Office for National Statistics: Suicides in the UK: 2017 registrations. And Office for National Statistics: Deaths registered in England and Wales (series DR): 2016)


Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition and can be caused by:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Too much alcohol
  • Drug use
  • Relationship problems
  • A side-effect of medication

Erectile dysfunction can also be linked to prostate cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

It’s important to talk about the problem - don’t let embarrassment stop you!

Try talking with your GP or visit your local sexual health/G.U.M.* clinic (*genitourinary medicine).

Find your local GUM clinic.

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Be Good To Your Heart

There are many types of heart disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common and can lead to sudden death from a heart attack.

CHD is caused by the gradual build-up of fatty deposits on the artery walls in your heart.

Poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking are the main causes of heart disease.

Check out our Healthy Living guides, filled with top tips to help you look after your health.

Keeping your heart healthy will also benefit your health in many other ways – including reducing your risk of stroke and dementia.

If there is heart disease in your family, you can take advantage of a health check with your GP.

Your Mary How Trust health screening includes an ECG (electrocardiogram) to check for conditions like heart block, atrial fibrillation and undiagnosed previous heart attack.

Learn more about heart health from the British Heart Foundation.

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Did You Know..?

Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the UK and worldwide. It kills 1 in 5 men in the UK. (Source: British Heart Foundation via


Give Up Smoking

Quit smoking: it's the single most important step you can take to improve your health.

Smoking doesn’t just cause lung cancer – it can cause many other cancers such as cancer of the bladder.

And it increases your risk of a vast range of other serious health conditions.

Learn more: our Quit Smoking guide includes 11 Steps To Make Quitting Easier.

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Healthy Eating

There is a higher incidence of all cancers if you are obese, so it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight.

Keeping an eye on portion size and taking daily exercise are your two best friends in managing your weight.

Try to eat a balanced diet that includes at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Learn more: read our 12 Top Tips For Eating Well

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Exercise And Muscle Loss

Aim to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity each week.

Learn more: check out our guide to Getting Active.

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Did You Know..?

41% of men in high-income countries don’t exercise enough. (Source: Movember)


Alcohol - Drink Sensibly

If you regularly drink most weeks, drink no more than 14 units a week.

That's approximately 6 pints of beer or 6 medium (175ml) glasses of wine.

Spread your drinking over three days or more, ensuring you have several alcohol-free days each week.

Learn more: read our 7 Top Tips For Sensible Drinking.

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In Summary

To improve your health now and for the future, a few simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference.

Take a look at our other Healthy Living guides for tips on how to get started.

Don't feel you need to change everything all at once - start by taking one or two steps that you find practical and easy. And you can build more changes into your everyday life gradually, as you feel they're needed.

Did You Know? The gender gap in life expectancy between men and women has been narrowing since the early 1980s, caused by more rapid improvements in male mortality. Health and mortality rates observed during 2014-2016 show that males could expect to live 63.1 years in “Good” health (79.6% of their life) and females 63.7 years (76.9% of their life). (Office for National Statistics – Health state life expectancies, UK: 2014 to 2016)

Excellent resources and information on men's health: We recommend the following brilliant organisations, among others. Their websites are packed with helpful advice and information on a wide range of male-specific health topics.

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