Whether you call it “Movember” or “No Shave November,” this month is dedicated to increasing awareness around men’s health. This is the perfect time to improve your health literacy and brush up on your health facts. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ll share ways you can stay on top of your physical, mental, and sexual wellbeing for now and for always.
The CDC reports that nearly 15% (14.9%) of men aged 18 or over are in fair to poor health. This includes the nearly 41% (40.5%) of men over the age of 20 that have obesity, and the nearly 52% (51.9%) that are living with or are treating hypertension. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, and this is likely due to the high rates of hypertension affecting men.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes frequent exercise and a well-balanced diet, can help lower your risk for developing hypertension and can prevent obesity. The CDC recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity, such as taking a brisk walk, and should practice muscle strengthening workouts at least twice a week.
You can accomplish this by taking a 30-minute power walk each morning during the weekdays and lifting weights during the weekends. Be sure to consult a personal trainer or health fitness specialist if you’re new to weight lifting, in order to learn proper form and to avoid injury. Other muscle strengthening workouts include yoga, calisthenics, and Pilates.
Exercise also has the added benefit of improving your mental health, which can lead to a well-balanced life. Research statistics from Mental Health America suggest that men are less likely to seek treatment for conditions such as depression and anxiety due to social stigma, downplaying symptoms, or a reluctance to reach out.
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If you find yourself experiencing the signs of mental distress (including a sudden change in mood or feelings of anger, irritability, or hopelessness) or if you find yourself experiencing the physical signs of stress, it’s ok to reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or loved one. You can also take a breather or engage in a favorite hobby to reduce stress and feel at ease.
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As for sexual health, the CDC reports that more men are likely to use contraception during sexual intercourse than they were ten years ago (these include male condoms or vasectomy). However, there was a drastic increase (the rate nearly doubled) in the percentage of men using withdrawal methods to avoid pregnancy.
It’s important to know that using the pull-out method as a form of contraception is not as effective or safe as using condoms. When performed perfectly (which is difficult to do) the pull-out method has a failure rate of 22% and does not protect against STDs, whereas condoms have a failure rate of 14% and can significantly reduce the risk of contracting STDs.
Having an open and honest conversation with your partner about birth control methods, is one of the best ways to find what method works best for your relationship. And if you’re sexually active, be sure to get tested for STDs annually. Be sure to talk with your doctor to create a plan that’s right for you or to express any concerns you may have about your health. It is also important to perform monthly self-exams in order to stay aware of any potential health conditions.
By improving your health knowledge, you are ensuring your current and future health and wellness, while also building self-confidence and peace of mind. You got this!