Category: Men’s Health

What’s the Deal with Male Birth Control?

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

I have been on many different types of birth control in the past 10+ years, all with varying levels of success and each with a new set of side effects including migraines. It has never been a question of if I should try a new method since no there is no effective reversible male birth control available.

Recently, it has made headlines that a male birth control shot has been found to effectively prevent pregnancy in a newly published study. Unfortunately, participants in the study reported adverse side effects including mood changes, depression, and increased and 20 participants dropped out of the study leading researchers to stop the study earlier than planned.

These reports come very soon after another recently published study that was in the news, which cited that hormonal birth control can cause depression in women.

While this particular study was cut short, it is my hope that research continues to search for a safe and effective method of male birth control. Over 80% of the male participants in the study responded that they would use this method of contraception outside of the study, which is hopeful for the future, and a sign that this method is very much wanted and needed. Both women and men deserve to have reproductive freedom without having to jeopardize their health or mental health.

But for now, until male birth control that is safe and effective is developed and approved, women must bear an unequal burden to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Read more about this interesting topic here.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

What is Domestic Violence? Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, or other demographic factors. However, domestic violence is most commonly experienced by  women between the ages of 18-24.

Domestic violence is preventable. Part of domestic violence prevention includes talking about this issue and reducing the stigma associated with it as a community. While all of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the National Network to End Domestic Violence is hosting a week of action from October 16-October 22.

Here are some ways that you can get involved during the week of action and throughout all of October. You can also search for events that may be happening in your community with local organizations.

  • Wear purple for #PurpleThursday on Thursday October 20
  • Speak Out: Talk with a friend, family member, or colleague about domestic violence to help eliminate stigma and show survivors that they are supported.
  • Follow the National Network to End Domestic Violence on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and change

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.

Spotlight on Men’s Health [infographic]

Guest Blogger: John Rehm

According to cancer.org, cancer is the second leading cause of death in men and that 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer survival rates increases significantly if detected and treated early.

To increase public understanding of the disease, prevention tips, treatment options, and encourage men to proactively manage their health, the American Cancer Society has dubbed September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The graphic below created by Nursing@Georgetown, Georgetown University’s online FNP program, breaks down the U.S Department of Health and Human Services health guidelines for men to improve overall health and wellness throughout their lifespan.

menshealth_infographic

Health Symptoms Men Shouldn’t Ignore

Although life expectancy is at it’s all time high of  78 years old, women are still expected to live at least five years longer than men. Why? The answer is simple: men just aren’t addressing their health problems. 

Studies show that men are half as likely to consult doctors than women, and were three times as likely to admit going more than five years without a visit! While this may not seem like a big deal to many, ignoring symptoms can often lead to worsening of health. Sometimes even the smallest symptoms can be signs of much more serious problems.

Here are just a few symptoms you should never ignore:

Problems in the Bedroom- Aside from causing obvious problems with performance, erectile dysfunction can be a sign of a much more serious problem that affects blood flow, like heart disease.

Chronic Snoring- While most people brush snoring off as a normal (and annoying) habit, it can actually be a sign of sleep apnea, a disorder where breathing is interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea not only disrupts quality of sleep but can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Trouble urinating- If you find yourself getting up several times in the night to pee, or feel pain or a burning sensation while going, it could be a sign of an enlarged or enflamed prostate, which can also be a sign of prostate cancer.

So if you find yourself with any of these symptoms, or anything else that seems out of the ordinary, make sure to contact your healthcare provider immediately. The sooner you address these problems, the sooner you find a solution and live a longer, healthier life.

Decline in Prostate Screening and Cancer

The availability of cancer screening is a great thing, under the right circumstances, but there is a danger to over-screening. While screening tests are useful tools, they are not always necessary to improve someone’s quality of life and sometimes lead to misdiagnosis. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force tries to aid the screening process by creating recommendations based on peer-reviewed research. As medical knowledge continues to grow and tests improve, these recommendations are subject to change over time.

In 2012, the USPSTF recommended against screening for prostate cancer for men 75 years old and older. Considering the slow pace at which most prostate cancers progress, the implications of a positive screen for prostate cancer can be worse than living with the disease, unaffected. With a positive test, comes a biopsy, which may lead to surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy, all of which come with their own set of challenges and complications – not to mention all of the psychological consequences that come with a positive cancer screening.

Two recent studies show that the American public and healthcare providers actually listened to the USPSTF guidelines, showing a significant decline in screening and prostate cancer diagnoses. 33,519 fewer men per year (since 2012) were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Not everyone is on board with this new recommendation, however. Some fear that the drastic decline in screening may lead to more prostate cancer- related deaths. For more information about this debate, please see NPR’s report.

Wellness Wednesdays: Stuffed – More Than A Harmless Thanksgiving Tradition?

Tomorrow, millions of Americans are planning to eat waay too much at Thanksgiving dinner. For some reason, Thanksgiving is a day when ‘dinner’ time is always 2 pm, and it’s socially acceptable to stuff yourself before falling asleep in front of the television. This behavior is almost certainly harmless when conducted in isolation, but as a society we often lionize such excess (immortalized in hot dog and pie eating contests). What other messages does this send?

For the first time, the fifth rendition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) includes ‘binge eating disorder’ as a distinct condition. In previous versions of the DSM it had been included under the catch-all – ‘eating disorder, not otherwise specified’ (ED-NOS).

Characterized by repeated episodes of eating large quantities of food accompanied by a feeling of loss of control, binge eating disorder is now considered to be the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 3.5% of women and 2% of men. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, individuals with binge eating disorder don’t engage in compensatory behaviors, meaning that this condition can lead to considerable weight gain over time.

Binge eating has been normalized in American culture, particularly in our holiday celebrations. This may prevent many people from ever seeking out treatment for what may be pathologic behavior. It is important to raise awareness about eating disorders, particularly among men – the culture of silence around mental health appears even stronger when the ‘problem’ is related to food. Unlike alcohol or drug abuse, one cannot simply abstain from food, making professional treatment a particularly important component of recovery.

 

The Truth About Indoor Tanning [Infographic]

GUEST BLOGGER: Fiona Erickson

indoor tanning.pngDespite the known health risks of UV overexposure, a surprising number of people still seek out tanning beds once summer fades away. In a 2010 survey, 5.6% of adults reported using indoor tanning services during the previous year.
Changing minds about indoor tanning starts with the facts. The most basic fact of all: Whether from the sun or an artificial source, UV rays are the cause of most skin cancers as well as long-term skin damage. Below are more facts:

Indoor tanning increases the likelihood of melanoma in young adults.
Use of a tanning bed is associated with a 20% higher risk of developing melanoma skin cancer (1). Indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases this risk by 87%.

Men are also at risk—even more so than women.
One study found that 39% of males under age 40 reported using indoor tanning during their lifetime (2). Men have the highest risk for skin cancer due to many factors, such as more time spent outdoors and failure to get routine screenings.

Having a “base” tan does not prevent sunburn.
A recent study confirmed that tanning via an artificial UV source does not prevent sunburn. In fact, indoor tanning was linked with a slight increase in risk (3).

It’s critical that we continue to spread awareness of indoor tanning dangers—through advocacy, policy making, and face-to-face dialogue. Health care practitioners in particular have the opportunity to play a key role in helping young adults lower their risk of cancer and maximize their chances of a healthy future.

For some eye-opening tanning statistics, check out our infographic.


 

1 Boniol et al. “Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMJ, 345:e4757 (2012): 1–12. Print.
2 Blashill et al. “Indoor Tanning Use Among Adolescent Males: The Role of Perceived Weight and Bullying.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 46 (2013): 232–236. Print.
3 Dennis, Leslie K. et al. “Does artificial UV use prior to spring break protect students from sunburns during spring break?” Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, (2013): 29, 140–148. Print.

What is Movember?

My boyfriend has always been a fan of No-Shave-November, mainly because of his love for his scruffy beard all year-long. But this year, he told me he was doing something different. He was shaving his beard on November 1st to instead grow out a mustache all month long. While at first I cringed at the thought of him sporting a dying 1970s trend, once I learned more about the organization behind this attempt at a mustache comeback, I became more supportive.

Movember, the month formerly known as November, marks a month where men and women join together to bring men’s health issues, a topic often neglected, into the spotlight. Men, called “Mo-Bros” sign up and grow and groom a mustache for 30 days. The organization has also made efforts to get women (called “Mo-Sistas”) involved, so they can also raise money and awareness to support the men in their life (without growing the mustache). 

You may be wondering, how does a mustache help with men’s health issues? Well, the idea behind the Movember Foundation is that a mustache is nature’s billboard. The founders discovered that the mustache is a powerful way to start conversations and decided to use that idea to get men more comfortable talking about their health. What most people don’t realize is that the state of men’s health is in a crisis, and on average, men die six years earlier than women. Some of the main causes of death in men (suicide, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer) are a result of the stereotypical forms of masculinity that prevent men from seeking help or getting preventative care.

Since the foundation of the project in 2003, the organization has grown from just 30 “Mo-Bros”, to 5 million “Mo-Bros” and “Mo-Sistas” worldwide. They also have raised $649 million and have funded over 832 men’s health projects since 2003.

So no, mustaches are not making a comeback (thank god), but they are making a significant contribution to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. For more information about the foundation, or to sign up for your own Movember (it’s not too late!) visit www.movember.com.