Men, we’re booking you in for an MOT.
Just like cars, we need a check-up every so often, to make sure everything’s running as it should.
And just like with our cars, we can sometimes be reluctant to do so, for fear of finding anything wrong. But these checks are important.
Carrying them out allows us to proactively look after our health, and swiftly intervene if there are any issues.
Starting at the top of the body, let’s talk about your head. Male mental wellbeing has never been so important, as the biggest threat to men under the age of 50 is actually themselves.
Around 3 in 4 people who end up taking their own life are male, and 1 in 8 men have a common mental health problem. Despite this, a stigma towards male mental health still exists, which is making it difficult for men to open up.
If things aren’t right between the ears, it doesn’t matter how much you can lift, how fast your car is, or how much money you earn, you won’t feel good.
So, a vital part of your MOT is to check your mental health, and make sure everything is okay.
If you are struggling, contact your GP. Talking about mental health issues takes a lot of courage, but help and support from your GP could make a big difference to your life.
Once you’ve checked your own mental health, why not check in on the mental health of one of your male friends?
You never know, simply asking the question might just save someone’s life. When you do ask the question, ask it twice. Three in four people would say they’re fine even if they’re struggling.
Simply asking again, with interest, might just lead to them opening up on an issue they otherwise would have kept hidden.
Moving down from the head, to the heart. Heart disease kills 1 in 8 men, and 80% of these deaths can be prevented by healthy lifestyle changes.
By implementing and maintaining these changes, you can go a long way towards protecting your heart, and lengthening your life. Here’s 3 heart-healthy habits to get you started.
1. Maintain a high-fibre diet
A healthy, high-fibre diet can go a long way towards keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
2. Maintain a regular exercise routine
Most men should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
3. Drink within the recommended amount of alcohol
The NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week
Moving from the heart to the bowels. Around 1 in 15 men will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime, but it is highly treatable if it is caught early. To help with this, some men are eligible for free bowel cancer screening.
Everyone aged 60 to 74, who is registered with a GP and lives in England, is automatically sent a bowel cancer screening kit every 2 years.
This programme is expanding to include anyone over the age of 56 in 2021. You can watch a video showing how to use the kit here.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, but it’s also one of the most curable. Knowing the symptoms, and responding quickly to them, could significantly prolong your life.
Potential symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
- Straining or taking a long time while peeing
- Weak flow of urine
- Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
- Blood in your urine or semen
These symptoms do not always indicate prostate cancer. Many men’s prostates naturally get larger as they get older. However, if you experience any of them, it’s still important that you visit a doctor.
Prostate cancer is one of the most curable cancers, as long as it is caught in its early stages.
The last stage of the MOT is checking your balls! Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men and teenagers, so we really can’t emphasise enough how important these checks are.
The process is a fairly simple one, and should be carried out about once a month:
- Firstly, cup your balls under your hands to see how heavy they are
- Roll each ball between finger and thumb, and carefully check for any lumps or changes in size
- After that, just have a look and a feel to make sure they are the same size and weight
You can find a more detailed guide on how to check your balls here.
Typical symptoms of testicular cancer are a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in their texture or shape.
Other symptoms may include an increase in the firmness of a testicle, a difference in appearance between one testical and the other, a dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum, which may come and go, or a feeling of heaviness in your scrotum.
If you do find or experience any of the above, then difficult as it may be, try not to panic. Lumps in your balls can be caused by a range of things, and it is estimated that only 4 in 100 lumps are caused by cancer.
However, you do need to go to your doctor as soon as you can, to get it checked out. You will be given the option of seeing a male doctor if you’d prefer.
Download your checklist
That brings us to the end of your MOT. If you’d like to remind yourself how and when you carry out these checks in the future, you can download our Men’s MOT Checklist below.
What happens next?
Going forwards, we’d like you to get into the habit of reflecting on how healthy you are. Hopefully you’re fighting fit and feeling fine, but if something is wrong, or if you’re honestly not sure, then take proactive steps today to try and sort it. Take the right action straightaway and hopefully you’ll be back on the road as soon as possible.