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The true importance of Movember

PUBLISHED: 11:12 26 November 2013 | UPDATED: 11:12 26 November 2013

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Gentlemen, twiddle your cookie dusters with smug delight this month - it’s the only time women give the thumbs up to facial hair.

Dear Menkind, women the world over know how shy you are about visiting the doctor with embarrassing ailments. Whether you are worried about lumps and bumps, feel depressed, or generally worried about your health or lifestyle, we understand how hard it can be to tell the doctor about your concerns. But with the start of Movember just around the corner, this is the perfect time to get savvy about symptoms.

“Men seem to be getting a little better at attending GP surgeries with health concerns’, says Dr Sam Hullah, Chief Clinical Officer at North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group. “We often find that media campaigns like this one will result in more appointments, but there is still a lot of machismo associated with not seeking medical help.”

Dr Hullah is keen to stress that men can ask to see a male GP if they have an embarrassing problem. Women have been doing this for many years and the system works well and is a choice also open to men.

“Too many men still avoid getting to the point when they feel embarrassed,” added Dr Hullah. “In consultations it’s quicker and easier if they just get to the issue - too many men still beat around with minor worries and only mention their real concern at the end when time is short.”

The most important symptom for a cancer of the testes is a lump, with or without pain, explains Dr Hullah. He recommends that men should get into the habit of examining their testes so that they notice a change from normal. It’s the same advice given to women about breast checks. Men are now being urged to follow similar health routines.

Dr Hullah confirmed GPs are happy to see men with worries regarding testicles and the examination is usually straightforward; when there is uncertainty an ultrasound scan can be arranged.

“Symptoms of a cancer of the prostate are much the same as those associated with the natural enlargement of the prostate as men get older, ‘added Dr Hullah. “The rapid onset of symptoms can be more worrying but either way a blood test or examination of the prostate can differentiate. The typical symptoms are nocturia - getting up several times at night to pass urine and a poor stream of urine. In addition a man may notice that it takes a long time to pass the urine and that his bladder doesn’t feel empty afterwards”.

Movember is the month formerly known as November, when men around the world grow a moustache, to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health.

It all began in 2003 Melbourne, Australia, when a few friends shared a few beers and decided to bring back the moustache! The goal was simple - create a campaign promoting the growth of the moustache among like-minded people and have fun along the way.

Since then, the popularity of Movember has spread across 21 countries, raising awareness for men’s health issues with each moustache grown. The facts are these – 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer during their lives, in 2009 2,209 men were diagnosed with testicular cancer, and suicide is the single most common cause of death in men under 35 – so although Movember provides a giggle amongst the guys, us girls must put stubble rash aside, politely ignore moustache crumbs and be patient while the bathroom mirror is hogged by the Moustachioed men in our lives. Movember Uk currently supports Prostate Cancer Uk and The Institute of Cancer Research.

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