June is Men’s Health Month, and what better time to focus on the unique health concerns that men face in particular. These concerns can range from a prevalence of heart disease to prostate and testicular cancer, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, and mental health. While these concerns are all pertinent to men at some point in their lives, each tends to occur more commonly at different time points.
We thought it would be interesting to explore some of these pertinent topics in men’s health by the decade. We’ll start with what’s important in the younger years and see what changes as you age.
Your 20s are often full of excitement, discovery, and for many people a time in their lives when health is not always at the top of their radar. However, this decade is especially important for setting up habits that will set us up for a healthy lifestyle as we progress through our lives. Important things to remember during this time include making sure you are getting plenty of physical activity. The current recommendation is for men to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, per week. And of course, if you are getting this activity outside, as many of us hope to do over the coming months, don’t forget to protect yourself! Sunscreen and sunglasses are vital, even on cloudy days, to protect your skin and eyes from the harmful radiation of the sun. Your body will thank you in the future – using sunglasses helps prevent the development of eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration, and using sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer and signs of aging.
Of course, this time in our lives is also one of new and changing interpersonal relationships. It is important for men to think about their sexual health and, if at risk, get regular screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This is also a time where changing life situations and new life challenges may contribute to mental health concerns. Almost 1 in 3 men have experienced a period of depression in their lives, and men are more likely than women to die by suicide. Fortunately, mental health is extremely treatable, and if this is a concern, do not hesitate to speak with your doctor. If you are currently having a mental health emergency, call 911 or text HOME to 741-741 to get connected to a crisis counselor.
This is a time for many men when life becomes busy, whether due to the pressures of work or the responsibilities of home and family life. It may be hard to find time to see your doctor, but it is important to do so as this is the time when certain health concerns may come to the forefront. For example, did you know that the average age for diagnosis of testicular cancer is 33? Fortunately, testicular cancer is extremely treatable, but it may be helpful to do regular self-testicular exams and call your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Our 30s is also the time when we cement in some of our routines that will help set the stage for health in our 40s and 50s. It is important to make sure you continue to get regular physical exercise to help keep weight in check and prevent high cholesterol and early stages of arterial plaque buildup. It is also important to make healthy dietary choices, and this may be a good time to meet with a nutritionist to make sure you are on the right track. If you are interested in seeing a nutritionist through telehealth, it’s as easy as scheduling an appointment with your Radish doctor and getting a referral.
Finally, while you may have been able to sneak by without seeing a doctor in your 20s, your 30s is a time where it could be really helpful to start checking blood work and making sure your blood pressure is under control. For example, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends starting screening for diabetes at age 35 in individuals who are overweight or obese. At Radish, we make it easy to get diabetes screening with a simple 5-minute finger prick test that can be done right in the workplace.
Your 40s is a time when it is very important to continue visiting the doctor on a regular basis. You should continue keeping up with a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. It is also a time when other health issues may begin to take hold. Blood pressures may start to trend up, and cholesterol levels may start to rise. Your doctor may recommend you start medication or a special diet to help control blood pressure.
This is a time when joint issues may start to act up as well. Men may begin experiencing issues with osteoarthritis, pain in the joints caused by wear and tear, starting in their 40s. Arthritis commonly affects the back, hips, knees, and fingers, and for some, the pain can be debilitating. Fortunately, it can be treated, interestingly, by keeping moving frequently. Regular exercise is the number one recommended treatment for arthritis. Likewise, the risk for arthritis can be lowered by maintaining a healthy weight and balanced diet.
This is a time when some men might start experiencing prostate issues. The recommended age to start screening for prostate cancer is 55 after discussion with your doctor, or earlier with certain risk factors. Another common concern at this age is benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). This is a condition where the prostate expands as men get older and starts to put pressure on the urinary system which may cause a feeling of having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling like your bladder is not able to fully empty, or having to wake up multiple times over the course of the night to urinate. Fortunately, these symptoms can oftentimes be controlled with a combination of lifestyle changes and in some cases medication.
There are other men’s health issues that may crop up in your 50s as well. By the age of 50, half of men will have lost some amount of hair. As this is usually due to genetic predisposition, there is unfortunately not a whole lot that can be done to prevent it, however, there are treatments available that you can discuss with your doctor. Erectile dysfunction is also a common concern at this age and can be associated with a whole host of factors, one of which may be low testosterone levels. While it can be difficult to bring this subject up with your doctor, it is important to do so both to learn about potential treatment options as well as do tests that may uncover other treatable health issues that could be contributing.
As men get into their 50s, 60s, and beyond, it is extremely important to keep up with physical activity. Even though life and health changes may make it more difficult to do so as you get older, staying in motion is the key to staying well as you age. It also helps to eat a balanced diet low in processed foods and sugars and only drink alcohol in moderation. In your 60s you may experience any of the unique health concerns discussed above. It is important to make sure to see your doctor regularly so that you can stay on top of anything that comes up, get your recommended cancer screenings and vaccinations, and discuss ways to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
With all the changes that can occur at this time, whether related to health, relationships, retirement, or other life transitions, it is also important to think about your mental health. Consider becoming more active in your community, or meeting with a counselor if you are experiencing stress, anxiety, or a depressed mood related to some of these transitions. Almost 1 in 6 adults over the age of 60 experience a mental health condition – don’t hesitate to discuss this with your doctor so that you can take full advantage of this time in your life.
For Men’s Health Month this June, think about where you are in your health journey and where you’d like to see things go. Men can experience a host of unique health issues, and your care team is always available to help accompany you through them. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a Radish doctor anytime to discuss any concerns you may have regarding men’s health.
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