Movember is for the boys

Men are notoriously bad at going to the doctor. In fact, recent stats reveal that two-thirds of men will avoid visiting their physician for as long as possible. Some also admit to hiding concerns from their healthcare providers. This is due to a number of factors, ranging from fear of a serious diagnosis to male bravado. Men are also less likely than their female counterparts to discuss any mental distress they are experiencing. Hence, the Movember movement was born.

Grow your mo

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month worldwide. A play on the name of the month, Movember started in 2003 in Australia and has become a foundation and global fundraising movement. The aim? To shed light on conditions affecting men, with a focus on testicular cancer, prostate cancer and men's suicide. This is done by encouraging men to grow a moustache for the duration of the month to encourage discussion on these difficult subjects.

Moustache GIF by Ediz AnaviAccording to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), local men stand a 1 in 1 578 chance of developing testicular cancer. They also state that prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in Mzansi, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 15. Men also have higher rates of suicide – 37 per 100,000 of the population. During Movember, questions about majestic facial hair can initiate discussion around these important topics, and may even save a life.

Know your nuts

When it comes to prostate cancer, men should be having regular screenings from age 50. If there is a family history of this disease, screenings should start at 45. These exams, however, can only be performed by a doctor.

When it comes to testicles, however, there are ways that individuals can be proactive when it comes to their health. According to The Men's Foundation South Africa, when detected in time, the survival rate for testicular cancer is over 95%. One way of being in touch with your balls is by engaging in regular sexual intimacy. This, and having good body awareness, puts you at a higher likelihood of detecting testicular cancer early. Another vital way to keep an eye on your package is to do a monthly self-check. If you want, you can get your partner to help. Because knowing your nuts might just save your life!

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Step #1 Have a nice hot, steamy shower. This will help your testicles to relax.

Step #2 Roll one testicle between your thumb and fingers, checking for any pain, lumps or changes.

Step #3 Repeat this on the other side to ensure your testes are feeling good!

With men in mind

Women are more likely to talk about their problems and concerns to therapists or their support network. Men, on the other hand, tend to suffer in silence. This is something that, no doubt, contributes towards the increased risk of suicide in males.

If you or someone you know are experiencing low moods and a lack of motivation or fulfilment, know that it is perfectly ok to reach out to a counsellor or psychologist who can help you identify and navigate your emotions. Talking to trusted friends and family can also be comforting when times are tough.

The best way to play your part in the men’s health movement this Movember is by raising awareness – something that newly-acquired facial hair is well known to achieve. Another way is to talk more openly to the men in your life to help break down the taboos still surrounding these serious issues so that individuals feel comfortable seeking help. By participating in Movember, you can play a role in changing the face of men’s health – literally! – this Men’s Health Awareness Month.

Want to help the cause or know someone who has been affected by testicular cancer, prostate cancer and men's suicide? These local NGOs are always looking for donors and volunteers to help in any way they can and can also provide much-needed resources to those who have been diagnosed. Contact them to find out how you can get help or get involved: