This November, grow a mo’ – but get moving, too!
Since 2003, Movember has been known as the month where men embrace their facial hair and grow out a moustache as a reminder about health concerns unique to men, like prostate and testicular cancer.
The annual growth of the mo’ has swept the planet like a wild and wooly hair-i-cane from just 30 scruffy Australians trying to raise awareness to an international fundraising campaign that has brought millions swirling in to support men’s health.
Second-year family medicine resident Diana Houle says men’s health is something she’d like to see stay top-of-mind all year long, not just when it’s time to ditch the shaving cream – or worse yet, when some kind of symptom strikes.
“You tend to not see men between 16 and 40 unless they start having trouble,” she says. Once a teen is old enough to start making decisions for himself about when to see the doctor, he’s probably not going to go unless he’s had some kind of accident or serious illness. It’s different for women, she says.
“We see more women and girls early on and they tend to have more visits because they come in for family planning and contraception,” she points out. And those regular visits are when you catch smaller problems before they become big concerns. “It’s also an opportunity to talk about preventative medicine,” she adds.
Jamil Sawya says for many men, being “strong and silent” in the doctor’s office isn’t just a stereotype. When male patients do visit, he says they typically try to keep it as brief as possible. “They don’t tend to ask as many questions,” says Sawya, also a second-year resident in family medicine. “They don’t engage as much.”
That’s a big problem, he adds. Men are more likely to die of a coronary event, cancer or diabetes at younger ages than women are. As a rule, men can also expect to live fewer healthy years than their female counterparts.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Both residents had an answer at the ready when asked, “What’s one thing men can do to take control of their health?” And that was a resounding response of “exercise more.” So, in addition to growing a mo’, these docs want you to add move-ember to your vocabulary this year. Yeah, it’s a groaner. But it just might save your life – or the life of someone you love.
“Just a little bit of exercise a day can make a big difference,” says Sawya. “You don’t have to start with a marathon.”
So, grow a moustache, talk to your family physician and get moving!
Visit Movember Canada at https://ca.movember.com/ for information on how men and their allies can support all aspects of men’s health this November.