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Couples know each other very well and often pick up on changes in their partner. It’s nice if your partner notices that you’ve had a new haircut, but it’s equally good when they spot something that might endanger your health.
Men can sometimes be reluctant or embarrassed to see their GP if they have a health issue, or can shrug it off as being an inevitable part of getting older. However, there is very little that a GP or a specialist, like me, has not seen before, and so if a man, or his partner – is worried about a symptom then please do make an appointment to see your GP.
Mr Pradip Javle, Consultant Urological Surgeon at BMI South Cheshire Hospital, talks about some of the common changes in a man’s physical or emotional health that you should keep an eye on:
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 20 to 35. Over 2,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK1.
If you notice a lump or abnormality in your testicles, you should first see your GP. Most testicular lumps are not cancer, but it is essential to have any abnormalities checked. This is because treatment for testicular cancer is much more effective if the cancer is diagnosed early. The best time to feel for lumps is in the shower when you are warmed up. Your partner can also help you check as they may also be able to spot anything which feels different to usual.
This is one of those symptoms which is often dismissed as an inevitable part of getting older. So if you notice your man is having trouble here do urge him to seek help as it may be the result of an enlarged prostate.
The prostate is a gland that surrounds the neck of the bladder and does indeed grow as men get older. While it is normal for the prostate to become larger, there are some remedies that can make it easier to live with. Sometimes, a difficulty urinating can also be a sign of prostate disease, including cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. More than 40,000 men are diagnosed with it every year2.
Urinary problems and prostate cancer commonly affects men over 50 years of age. Other symptoms include pain or burning when you pass urine and frequently waking up in the night to pee. If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP.
Erectile dysfunction, or the inability to get or maintain an erection, can really affect a couple’s relationship, as the man may feel inadequate or unable to satisfy himself or his partner, while his partner can also feel that they are no longer desired. It’s important for couples to keep communicating with each other if they are to avoid those unsaid (and probably untrue) assumptions which can affect their relationship.
In fact, most men have problems getting or keeping an erection (impotence) at some point. Half of all men over 40 have had trouble getting an erection at least once.
Generally, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and exercise, can correct the problem. Some men may need medication such as Sildenafil (also known as Viagra, Cialis).
If your man has erection problems that last for several weeks, encourage him to see his GP. His GP is likely to assess his general health because it can be a sign of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, which the GP can diagnose and treat.
Most people can feel ‘down’ for a while, but when you feel persistently sad for weeks or months then this is a sign of depression.
It’s common for people who feel depressed to feel it’s a sign of weakness or of letting others down.
While, of course, this is not the case it does lead to people not seeking the help that they need. This is an area where a partner can help – look out for signs like him feeling guilt-ridden, irritable, anxious, hopeless, changing weight, having a low sex drive, or of avoiding contact with friends – and encourage him to see his GP.
I find men habitually compare themselves with traits of power, control and invincibility.
Men in their middle years are more likely to be affected as they are caught between the strong, silent generation of their fathers and the more open, progressive generation of their sons.
Depression is a real illness with real effects on your work, social and family life. Treatment usually involves a combination of self-help, talking therapies and drugs.
In the UK, diseases of the heart and circulation (cardiovascular disease), including heart attacks and stroke, are the main causes of death. Nearly 1.4 million men have heart disease in the UK and around 50,000 men in England alone have a heart attack each year.
This is an area where a partner can really help, by helping or driving lifestyle changes to help prevent cardiovascular disease, including:
- stopping smoking
- doing regular physical activity
- eating a healthy, balanced diet including five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- maintaining a healthy weight
- not drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol
- getting your blood pressure and cholesterol level checked and treated if necessary
- controlling your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels if you have diabetes
Generally, if you have any pain or tightness in your chest that feels worse when you do physical activity, contact your GP. If you get sudden crushing pain or heaviness in your chest that won’t go away, it may be a sign of a heart attack and you should call for medical help immediately.
If you have noticed a worrying change in your or your partner’s health, speak to one of our Private GPs and get some peace of mind without having to wait.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.