The Men's Health Taboo

In a previous article I spoke about my research for my new health information web site, and, of course, one thing that became familiar about people's health issues. In particular those 'hard' ever talked about annual prostate examinations and testicular cancer.

Men do not teach their sons about male health issues like women teach the daughters about female problems to watch for. In fact, it seems there is a taboo for men to speak naturally about any health issues between the thighs and the belly button.

And, heaven forbid if they have to teach their boys about examining their 'bits' like women have to regularly do breast examination for lumps.

And, in the issue of testicular cancer, it is a young man's cancer – so the imperative becomes critically important – yet, like discussing emotions, men, in general, shy away from such subjects.

There are all sorts of cultural, social and other excuses for the deplorable neglect of good health prevention practices among men, but in the long run they are simply hang ups mixed in with skewered ideas of what it is to be manly.

Youth, naturally, do not consider themselves vulnerable to death or injury, and older men need to provide the example. Especially in light of the fact that this cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers.

As for annual prostate examinations – the embarassment factor increases by umpteen percent at the thought of digital rectal examination – so nothing is often done – yet early detection gives hugely increased chance of cure. The good news is that the PSA blood test is available and it at least should be a regular part of an annual check up for men over 40. PSA simply stands for Prostate Specific Antigen – a protein in men's blood used to screen for the cancer.

Education about preventive health care is an absolute necessity overall in our communities – the savings on the tax dollar alone are worth it.

More so for men is health education an imperative from an early age – preferably in schools and as part of normal family practice. And, it should include tests like the PSA so that as boys grow and mature they become accustomed to the normalcy of preventive health care and, the prostate (and testicular cancer) in particular.