You may have heard of Movember, the month when men grow their facial hair in solidarity with men’s health issues, like testicular and prostate cancer. The trend has taken hold across the world and even generated its own spinoffs, like “No-Shave November.”
Movember started in Australia as a grassroots movement and began to become widespread in the early 2000s. Since then, the campaign has only grown, so you’re sure to see plenty of men rocking facial hair this November.
Let’s take a moment to discuss what you can do to take care of your health, raise awareness, and show your support for men’s health issues.
What Movember Is All About
Movember is all about men’s health. Rather than focusing on one specific medical concern, Movember encourages us to spread awareness of the many health risks specific to men. Mental health is a huge focus during the month, as studies have shown that men are statistically far less likely to seek help for things like anxiety and depression.
Men seek treatment less frequently for a variety of medical conditions, largely due to a culture that encourages men to be stoic and deal with things themselves. Regular checkups and cancer screenings are more likely to be put off or skipped entirely by men. We’re here to encourage guys to take charge of their health and break the cycle of stigmas that prevent so many men from properly taking care of themselves.
Mental health is a major issue for men, not just in the US but across the world. In the United States, men are 3.6x more likely to die by suicide than women. There are many reasons for this, but a lot of it comes down to a lack of comfort in discussing emotions. While we’ve made great progress, some men still feel ashamed of talking about their emotions, especially with a medical professional like a therapist or psychiatrist.
As a society, it’s important to treat mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, with the same care and empathy we treat physical ailments.
Here are some common signs of depression that men should look out for:
- Anger and irritability—especially if it’s atypical behavior
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Increased intake/abuse of alcohol and drugs
- Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
It’s important to remember that many of these signs can appear before the person is consciously aware that they’re suffering from depression. While these symptoms aren’t unique to men, it’s important to remember that men are less likely to openly talk about what they’re experiencing. That’s why it’s important to be an active listener and to try and pick up on nonverbal cues from the people you care about. If you think someone is struggling, encourage them to talk to a professional, and offer a safe and non-judgemental ear.
If you or someone you know is in in crisis, reach out to the suicide & crisis lifeline by calling or texting 988 for help.
One area where men feel a lot of stigma is in their sexual function. As men age, their levels of testosterone naturally tend to drop. This decrease can result in lower libido, delayed orgasm, and even erectile dysfunction (ED).
Though it’s completely normal for your interest in sex to decrease a little as you age, major changes or difficulties are often a source of great anxiety and embarrassment. For example, even though erectile dysfunction is very common and usually highly treatable, available data indicates about 39% of men with ED never discuss it with their doctor. Fortunately, medical professionals can offer various solutions. Whether you try simple lifestyle changes or medication, or look into a more advanced treatment like hormone therapy, it’s likely there’s a solution to fit the need. Lack of communication is often the biggest hurdle, so talk to your doctor if you’re struggling and encourage others to break the stigmas also.
It isn’t just mental health that men are less likely to seek help for. Physical ailments are also reported by men at a lower rate than women. The reasons are essentially the same. With a culture that celebrates physical strength and ‘working through the pain,’ men are more likely to feel like they need to simply push through it. The statistics bear this out, as a recent survey showed that less than half (46%) of men had a routine checkup in 2022.
It’s imperative for men to get routine checkups, especially as they age. Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death in men, and testicular cancer can be life-threatening and incredibly life-altering, if not caught early. The good news is that both of these cancers are generally fairly treatable when caught in time. Help the men in your life by encouraging them to get routine physicals, learn to perform a self-exam for signs of testicular cancer, and if you have a loved one that isn’t taking care of their health the way they should—talk to them.
Movember is all about men’s health. From mental health to cancer, it’s time for men to break the cycle of silence. Talking about health concerns, be it anxiety, physical health, or sexual function, is crucial to living a long, healthy, and happy life. Whether you’re a man hoping to improve your overall health or you want to encourage a loved one to do the same, we hope this article has provided you with some helpful facts and resources. Happy Movember, and good health to all!