June is Men's Health Month

For a lot of men, a trip to the doctor is something you do only when you get sick.

Preventative maintenance? That's for your truck.

An injury occurs? You're more likely to hear "walk it off" or "rub some dirt on it" than "can you drive me to the ER?"

This attitude towards health is one of many reasons why men are expected to live six years less than women. Men are prone to make unhealthy life choices such as avoiding exercise, skipping health screenings, not getting enough sleep, ignoring or denying signs of depression, eating poorly, and drinking too much.

According to the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death for men are as follows:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Unintentional Injuries
  • COVID-19
  • Cerebrovascular Diseases (Stroke, Aenurysm, Brain Bleed, Carotid Artery Disease)
  • Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Suicide
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis

You can find resources on each of these at Alabama Healthy Men

Reproductive Health

Men also face health issues that, while not fatal, are vital and should receive attention. Because reproductive health and reproductive issues have traditionally been perceived as female-related, they often get left out of the conversation around men's health. However, there is much men can do to protect their reproductive health, including avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, using contraceptives properly, and taking steps to preserve fertility.

Learn more about reproductive health for men at the National Institutes of Health

Minority Men and Health

In general, men in the United States all face the same obstacles to living healthier lives, such as poor lifestyle choices and poor health literacy (meaning they struggle to find, understand, and use information and services that could help them make better decisions about their health).

Minority men face additional obstacles that further impact their health. For example, 49% of Hispanic/Latino men surveyed reported difficulty understanding the process of getting medical care. Non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native men have lower life expectancy than non-Hispanic white men. And, according to another survey, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander men find it more difficult to have good communication with their doctor than men from other racial and/or ethnic backgrounds.

The Office of Minority Health is working to provide these and other groups with services, information, and resources that are geared toward their language and cultural needs. You can visit their website to learn more about these efforts. 

Sexual Health for Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men

Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men share the leading causes of death with all men, but are also affected by higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

To ensure sexual health, these screenings are recommended:

  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea

To learn more about STDs and other risk factors, visit the CDC

Although it is primarily spreading through sexual contact during this current outbreak, mpox infection can spread through non-sexual contact with infectious lesions and from contaminated instruments in clinic settings. Visit the CDC to learn more.

Prevention

All men can benefit by shifting their focus from "fixing what went wrong" to taking preventive actions. Simply scheduling (and attending) regular check-ups, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise and sleep can go a long way. Men should also pay attention to their family health history, as health issues that affected their relatives may be waiting in their future.