Men who take care of themselves live healthier lives. Sometimes, men do not realize the impact that their health can have on their lives until poor health becomes a problem. To prevent the negative impact of poor health, “man up” and follow some of these simple, health-enhancing suggestions. Healthy choices about what foods to eat play a vital role in the development and maintenance of good health. Men are more susceptible to social pressures and influences that encourage poor nutritional choices. The perception pervading society is that “manly” foods are those with high fat, high cholesterol, and high- calorie content. Healthy foods, such as salads, are perceived as more feminine choices. No wonder women live an average of six years longer than men.
Healthy men make informed decisions about the types of food they eat. It is important to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Adding some of these healthy foods to a male’s plate each meal can make a big difference in the long run. Reducing the amount of foods high in saturated fat and sodium will aid in preventing the development of health problems later in life, such as heart disease and cancer. Eating healthy also helps a person to look and feel good.
When men do not feel well, they are sometimes reluctant to seek medical attention or emotional support. The erroneous perception that “real men” do not need help dealing with health issues, both physical and mental, leads to poor health. In some cases, it may even be life threatening.
“Man up” and get checked out when something does not feel right. Take a trip to the Student Wellness Center on campus or to a doctor’s office. Medical professionals there can provide with students a free flu shot, check out illnesses, and do screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).
In between visits to a doctor, check yourself out. Testicular cancer is a young man’s disease; most patients are between the ages of 15 and 40. Thirty years ago, testicular cancer killed 90 percent of men who developed the cancerous cells. Today, due to advances in medical technologies combined with early detection, the cure rate for the same cancer is 90 percent.
Protect the “family jewels.” Do a testicular self-exam once a month. While holding your right testicle in your right hand, run your left index (“pointer”) finger over the testicle’s front and side surfaces. Use slight pressure. Normal testicles should feel smooth and pliant, like a peeled hard boiled egg. Repeat this process for the left testicle.
Next, use both hands to check the back of the testicle. Do not let the epididymis throw you. This cord-like structure stores and transports the sperm. One will feel it as a soft, moveable bump on the upper back side of each testicle. It is normal. During the exam, be on the lookout for anything that is a hard bump like a pea, changes in skin color or an unusual heavy feeling. If a person finds any abnormalities, get a doctor to check it out. This simple test should only take 30 seconds and could save a life.
It is also important to protect yourself in sexually active relationships. “Man up,” and wrap it up. Condoms, when used correctly and consistently, are the best way for sexually active men to prevent the spread of STI’s. It is also important to make sure every sexual interaction is consensual. If a partner is under the influence, they cannot legally give consent for sexual activities. “Man up” – ask the partner and respect their answer. It is the only way to know for sure.
While it is normal to slip into a funk every now and then, it is important to get help if it lasts more than two weeks and/or is accompanied by other symptoms like changes in weight or eating habits, energy levels or grades. Support for mental health is available on campus free of charge at the Counseling Center (610-436-2509). Call right away if suicidal or self-harming thoughts creep up; the 24-hour national hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Trouble in a relationship can also cause mental and emotional stress. If a person feels angry often or finds it difficult to express strong feelings, respect his/her relationship and learn how to handle it. Counseling for anger management and other mental health issues can lead to a dramatic improvement in the quality of interpersonal relationships.
“Man up” and do your part to have a healthy relationship. On campus, the Counseling Center, Women’s Center and Wellness Center can all help brainstorm ways to deal. Also, a 24-hour hotline is available that can help find off-campus resources: 1-800-799-7233.
Being a healthy man involves taking responsibility for his health. “Man up” and follow the suggestions listed above to enjoy a better, longer life.
Adam Lush is a fourth-year student majoring in public health promotion. He can be reached at AL582796@wcupa.edu.