Movember is here once again. As a person who has keen interest in men’s health, I thought of writing something on this topic. For those of you who are already involved in this event, it is just a reminder that you are doing a great job for a noble cause. For others, it is time to think about it and see how you can get involved and contribute to raising awareness on men’s health issues. I have written in Q&A format which I believe many readers will find it worth reading. What is Movember? Movember is an annual event that takes place during the month of November. Men grow moustache during the month of November every year, hence it is the shortened word for Moustache and November. How did Movember start? Historically, Movember had nothing to do with men’s health. It was started in 2003 by a group of friends in Melbourne who decided to bring back the moustache as a fashion. Then they combined this with the idea of using the moustache as a conversation starter for men’s health issues. What is the goal of Movember? The primary goal of Movember is to raise awareness and understanding of men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. It is also aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for these problems, and raise funds to support research, education, and programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of men. The long-term goal of Movember is to end early death among men. Who are the participants for Movember? Men who grow moustaches are known as “Mo Bros’’ and women who support and encourage their male counterparts, known as “Mo Sistas” register on the official Movember website. Men are encouraged to start the month clean-shaven and then grow their moustaches throughout November. All participants are encouraged to seek donations from friends, family, and colleagues to support men’s moustache growing efforts. These funds are then utilised to support various men’s health initiatives, including research, awareness campaigns, and support services. What are the key health issues Movember addresses? The key health issues highlighted during Movember are: Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Movember raises funds for research, early detection, and treatment. Testicular Cancer: Testicular cancer is most common among young men, and Movember aims to educate about self-examination and promote early detection of testicular cancer. Mental Health: Movember addresses the mental health challenges men face, including depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention. It encourages open conversations and seeks to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help. What has Movember achieved so far? Over the years, Movember has made significant contributions to men’s health research and awareness. It has played a key role in reducing the stigma around men’s mental health issues and has funded research that has improved early detection and treatment of prostate and testicular cancer. It has gained global recognition and participation. Movember has now expanded to more than 20 countries and has raised significant funds for men’s health initiatives worldwide. It has become a vital platform for addressing and improving men’s health issues. It encourages open dialogue, fundraising, and community involvement to make a positive impact on men’s lives. All those moustaches, from Australia to Norway, US to the U.K. have raised a staggering $769 million dollars combined to date. I want to be involved, how do I become “Mo Bros or Mo Sista?” You can log in or donate here to support Movember: https://au.movember.com/about/foundation or you can organise your own event and donate to Movember. I understand Movember focuses on 3 main health issues-prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. What should I know about these as an individual? Prostate cancer Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably. These cancerous cells can form a tumor and, in some cases, may spread to other parts of the body. It typically affects men over the age of 50, and the risk increases with age. Symptoms: In the early stages, prostate cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms. As it progresses, symptoms may include difficulty urinating, frequent urination, blood in the urine or semen, pain in the lower back, hips, or pelvis, and erectile dysfunction. Diagnosis: Prostate cancer is often detected through routine screening tests, such as the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal examination (DRE). If these tests suggest the presence of cancer, further diagnostic tests, like a biopsy, may be performed. Treatment: Treatment options for prostate cancer depend on the stage of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. These may include surgery (prostatectomy), radiation therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or a watchful waiting. Prevention: While it’s not always possible to prevent prostate cancer, maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking may help reduce the risk. It’s important for men, especially those at higher risk due to factors like age or family history, to discuss prostate cancer screening and risk factors with their health care provider. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the prognosis for prostate cancer. Testicular cancer Testicular cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer that begins in the testicles. It typically affects young and middle-aged men. Symptoms of the cancer may include a painless lump or swelling in the testicle, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, and discomfort in the lower abdomen or groin. Early detection and treatment are crucial for successful outcomes. Treatment often involves surgical removal of the affected testicle. In some cases, other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation may be necessary. Testicular cancer has a high cure rate when diagnosed and treated early. The most effective way to detect testicular cancer early is through self-examination. Men are encouraged to perform regular testicular self-exams, typically once a month. By becoming familiar with the normal size, shape, and consistency of your testicles, you may be more likely to notice any unusual changes, such as the development of a lump or swelling. If you do detect any abnormalities during a self-exam, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation. Mental Health and Suicide As an individual, it is important to recognize the signs of poor mental health. It can vary widely among individuals, but common signs and symptoms may include: Mood changes: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, or mood swings. Anxiety: Excessive worry, fear, or stress, often accompanied by physical symptoms like increased heart rate or sweating. Social withdrawal: Isolation, avoiding friends and family, or withdrawing from social activities. Changes in sleep: Insomnia or oversleeping, frequent nightmares, or restless sleep. Appetite changes: Significant weight loss or gain due to changes in eating habits. Fatigue: Persistent lack of energy, even with adequate rest. Difficulty concentrating: Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things. Physical illness: Unexplained physical symptoms or health issues like headaches, stomach problems, or pain. Substance abuse: Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope. Decreased interest: Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. Irritability: Increased anger, agitation, or frustration, sometimes directed at others. Apathy: A sense of detachment or feeling emotionally numb. Self-harm or suicidal thoughts: Thoughts of self-harm or suicide or engaging in self-destructive behaviours. Mental health and suicide prevention involve improving your emotional well-being, utilising mental health support services in time, and seeking help from health professional immediately if you or anybody you know get thoughts of self-harm or suicide. I now understand Movember focuses mainly on prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. What else can I do to improve my general health and wellbeing? Quit smoking if you are a smoker: Smoking is a major risk factor for several types of cancer including lung, mouth, throat, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, liver, and colon. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing these cancers and improve your overall health. Quit/reduce alcohol intake Quitting alcohol can bring about a wide range of physical, mental, and social benefits. These can include reduced risk of liver damage, lowered risk of cancers including mouth, throat and liver, reduced risk of heart disease and blood pressure, weight loss, better mood, better sleep, stronger relationship with family and friends, enhanced self-esteem, and self-confidence. Exercise regularly Exercise offers a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Exercise can help with weight loss or weight maintenance. It strengthens the heart, improves circulation, and lowers the risk of heart disease. It reduces the risk of conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers. Regular exercise can increase your energy, reduce fatigue, helps better sleep, and improves your mood. Bowel cancer check-up Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, but many cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes and regular screening. Bowel cancer can often be asymptomatic in its early stages, but symptoms may include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. Screening, early detection, and timely treatment are essential for better outcomes. The Australian government sends you a bowel cancer screening tool kit once you turn 50 years. Do the test regularly and if any abnormality is detected in the test, you will be informed for further follow up. Skin/eye/dental check-ups See you doctor regularly for skin checks or if you notice any unusual lesions in the skin. Eye and dental check-ups must be done at least once a year. And most importantly, be happy and positive and enjoy your life!! Happy Movember.   Author Dr N Parajuli Dr Parajuli is a Medical Practitioner based in Sydney. At present he runs Vasectomy clinics in Sydney under the name of Gentle Procedures Sydney. His special interests are family planning and men’s health. He writes medical articles and blogs regularly. He is also the author of the book ‘Do I have Cancer?’ For more information, he can be contacted directly at 0490 813 714 or email: info@gentleproceduressydney.com.au
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