November Health Awareness

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Men's Health

It's estimated 1 in 10 men has a problem related to having sex, such as premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.

Sexual problems can affect any man, whether he is straight, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Erectile dysfunction

This is when a man cannot get, or keep, an erection that allows him to take part in sexual intercourse or other types of sexual activity.

Most men experience it at some time in their life, and the causes can be physical or psychological.

Physical causes include heart disease, diabetes and raised blood pressure.

Alcohol, smoking and illegal drugs, as well as some prescription medicines, can also cause erectile problems.

Worries about work, money, your relationship, family and not getting an erection can all be factors.

Find out more about erectile dysfunction

Premature ejaculation

This is when a man ejaculates (comes) sooner than he wants to during sex. It's only a problem if it bothers him or his partner.

Causes can include anxiety about sexual performance, stress, unresolved issues in a relationship or depression.

You can see a GP or a psychosexual therapist for help.

Find out more about premature ejaculation

Loss of sex drive

Loss of sex drive (also known as libido) is when a person has a reduced interest in sexual activity or sexual thoughts.

Losing your sex drive is common. It can be linked to a number of factors, including relationship issues, stress, anxiety, some medical conditions and side effects of medication.

Help is available. Talk to a GP, or get in touch with the Sexual Advice Association.

Find out more about loss of libido

What is gynaecomastia?

Gynaecomastia (sometimes referred to as "man boobs") is a common condition that causes boys' and men's breasts to swell and become larger than normal. It is most common in teenage boys and older men.

Signs of gynaecomastia

Signs vary from a small amount of extra tissue around the nipples to more prominent breasts. It can affect one or both breasts.

Sometimes, the breast tissue can be tender or painful, but this isn't always the case.

Causes of gynaecomastia

Hormone imbalance

Gynaecomastia can be caused by an imbalance between the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. Oestrogen causes breast tissue to grow. While all men produce some oestrogen, they usually have much higher levels of testosterone, which stops the oestrogen from causing breast tissue to grow.

If the balance of hormones in the body changes, this can cause a man's breasts to grow. Sometimes, the cause of this imbalance is unknown.

Obesity

Being very overweight (obesity) is a common cause of gynaecomastia – this is because being overweight can increase levels of oestrogen, which can cause breast tissue to grow. If you're overweight you're also more likely to have excess fat that can enlarge the breast tissue. For some people losing weight or doing more exercise can help but this may not always improve the condition.

Newborn baby boys

Gynaecomastia can affect newborn baby boys, because oestrogen passes through the placenta from the mother to the baby. This is temporary and will disappear a few weeks after the baby is born.

Puberty

During puberty, boys' hormone levels vary. If the level of testosterone drops, oestrogen can cause breast tissue to grow. Many teenage boys have some degree of breast enlargement. Gynaecomastia at puberty usually clears up as boys get older and their hormone levels become more stable.

Older age

As men get older, they produce less testosterone. Older men also tend to have more body fat, and this can cause more oestrogen to be produced. These changes in hormone levels can lead to excess breast tissue growth.

Treatment for gynaecomastia

See a GP if you're worried about breast tissue growth – they can discuss the treatment options with you.

If a GP thinks you need treatment, they may recommend:

  • surgery to remove the excess breast tissue
  • medication to adjust a hormone imbalance

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).

When this happens, you may notice things like:

  • an increased need to pee
  • straining while you pee
  • a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied

These symptoms should not be ignored, but they do not mean you have prostate cancer.

It's more likely they're caused by something else, such as prostate enlargement.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis, found only in men.

About the size of a satsuma, it's located between the penis and the bladder, and surrounds the urethra.

The main function of the prostate is to produce a thick white fluid that creates semen when mixed with the sperm produced by the testicles.

Why does prostate cancer happen?

The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown. But certain things can increase your risk of developing the condition.

The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 50 or older.

For reasons not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent, and less common in Asian men.

Men whose father or brother were affected by prostate cancer are at slightly increased risk themselves.

Recent research also suggests that obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Tests for prostate cancer

There's no single test for prostate cancer.

All the tests used to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks that your doctor should discuss with you.

Find out more about how prostate cancer is diagnosed

Published: Nov 1, 2021