Dr. Axel-Jürg Potempa, urologist from Munich on the importance of health check-ups – also for men.
Although Germans are living longer, men with an average of 78 years still have a considerably shorter life expectancy than women, who on average live to be 83. Women live a whole five years longer. Yet the lifestyles of women and men are becoming increasingly the same – both sexes generally work full-time and benefit from the advances in medicine. So why is there such a discrepancy in average life expectancies?
According to investigations by the Robert-Koch-Institute1 men generally address issues of their health less than women do. Only one fifth of all courses offered by health insurance on nutrition, stress reduction or addiction are visited by men. Also men visit much less frequently the doctor for Check-up 35 or for early skin cancer check-ups. Particularly, young men often don’t consult a doctor.
Men frequently react too late to the signals their bodies give. Even strong or returning complaints are often ignored for a long time. Research by the Foundation for Men’s Health2 ascertain that many men don’t like to be told what do to by doctors, and too much attention paid to issues of health is considered a sign of weakness and the messages regarding check-ups seen as “unmanly.”
Many men also only pay attention to physical symptoms. Psychological ailments like depression and burn-out usually don’t fit into the image of the “tough guy”. In the case of mental problems, many men don’t seek advice from family members or a doctor, but tend towards aggression or alcohol, which make it twice as difficult then for friends, family and doctors to reach them. The considerably higher suicide rate of men (up to 75% of all suicides) underscores how terribly high the pressure and suffering is.3
Also male-specific illnesses like prostate or testicular cancer are often red flags. And as in all kinds of cancer, an early diagnosis considerably increases changes of recovery. Starting at age 45, all men should take advantage of a free prostate check-up – yet only 15% of German men do!4
A first step for a man is making it a part of his daily routine to check himself, for example in the shower. Any changes in the testicles or groin could be the first signs of an illness. Also discomfort during urination or ejaculation, as well as blood during urination or erection problems are warning signals. When a man knows and observes his body, then he has particularly good chances of reacting in time. When in doubt, he should consult a doctor.
Medical check-ups are especially important because cancer often doesn’t create any obvious physical symptoms in the early stages. By checking the prostate, genitals and the lymph nodes in the groin, a urologist can confirm the first signs of hardened tissue or tumors. In the case of a discovery, then a tissue sample can be taken and eventually treated as a benign or cancerous tumor. A blood test – the so-called PSA test – can recognize prostate specific antigens already in the early stages. The costs ranging from 15-45 euros, however, are not covered by health insurance.
Particularly with the prostate, a diagnosis of cancer doesn’t necessarily mean operating or heading straight to chemotherapy. On the contrary, often slowly growing tumors are first observed by the doctor and only when the patient is in acute danger are measures taken to treat it. Sometimes, this isn’t necessary.
Taking your health seriously, paying attention to your body’s signal and seeking out your doctor’s advice are all important in boosting your quality of life and your life expectancy. Men should really take a leaf out of a woman’s book, because misplaced pride really shouldn’t rob you of your life.
I am full on LOVE, …
…because also men get the greatest benefits from the right mix of deeply-felt love and fantasy-filled sex, a reward from the often sobering demands presented to men every day.
Dr. Axel-Jürg Potempa