Some of the most severe health challenges facing men today are heart disease, diabetes, stroke, lung cancer and prostate cancer. However, men are less likely on average than women to take care of their health by maintaining routine doctor's appointments.
Movember is a movement started by the Movember Foundation, a non-profit committed to helping men live happier, healthier and longer lives. The organization's primary goal is to reduce the number of premature male deaths by promoting men's health initiatives worldwide that support prostate and testicular cancer projects, mental health services and suicide prevention.
One way to support this work is through Moustaches in Movember. The throwback mustache look is now synonymous with their efforts, which means that for 30 days, your mustache turns you into a walking, talking billboard for men's health.
This Movember, I'd like to encourage all men to embrace the spirit of the challenge and think about their health more carefully. One important aspect of men's health is urology care. Urologists are specialists in all things related to urine and the organs of male reproduction. The kidneys, bladder, ureters, prostate and testicles are the organs often affected. Below, we'll cover each organ individually by explaining what it does, and how it impacts men's health.
This gland, about the size of a walnut, supplies fluid that helps sperm survive and reach the egg during intercourse. It surrounds the urethra, which is the passageway for urine to exit the body.
The most common cancer in men is prostate cancer, which could necessitate full or partial removal of the gland. With benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, the gland enlarges and is not cancerous, but can restrict urinary function. Prostatitis, an infection of the prostate, can cause sudden pelvic discomfort and difficulty urinating.
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The testicles are mainly responsible for testosterone production and the formation of sperm.
In younger men, testicular cancer is a concern and should be considered if unusual enlargement occurs. As men age, they can develop low testosterone due to a decrease in production. Hydroceles and varicoceles, due to dilated testicular veins, are common benign causes of lumps or masses. Though not cancerous, they can create discomfort. Many men request vasectomies to become sterile.
Your kidneys filter up to 200 liters of blood every day to produce 1 to 2 liters of waste and excess fluid in the form of urine. Kidneys also regulate salt, potassium and acid content and release hormones that affect blood pressure, bone health and red blood cell production.
Common causes of kidney damage include dehydration and over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen. High blood pressure and diabetes are two leading causes of kidney failure requiring dialysis. Stones can also form in the kidneys, causing pain and bleeding. Kidney cancers occur in many patients without any symptoms at all.
The bladder is a flexible hollow organ that stores urine and slowly relaxes to hold more as it comes down from the kidneys. Bladder control problems include urinary incontinence, where urine leaks involuntarily, and urinary retention when the bladder doesn't empty completely. This can be a result of medications, neuromuscular disorders or obstructions in the urinary tract. Bladder cancers typically present with painless blood in the urine.
The ureters are two tiny, muscular tubes which constantly flex and relax to transport urine out of the kidneys and down to the bladder. If urine backs up, kidney injury and infections can develop. Stones from the kidney can get stuck here and cause pain or worrisome infections as they get stuck along the way out. Cancers can also arise in the lining of the ureters, typically with bloody urine as a sign.
If you feel any of these conditions could potentially apply to yourself, make sure to reach out to your primary doctor or urology specialist to discuss.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nov. 4th, 2016.