For every 100 women who make it to age 65, only 77 men survive. The reasons for the longevity gap are part chromosomal and part behavioral, and you can make a big difference in one of those.
Maybe it’s machismo. Maybe it’s fear. Whatever the cause, men are much less likely to seek medical care for anything they can live with another day. Which means you can really help just by encouraging a man in your life to take that lump or pain or weird-looking mole seriously.
Here are some common conditions that men often face and the women who love them can help address.
Obesity is tough on any body, but men are impacted in ways women aren’t. Because obesity lowers testosterone levels, it creates a ripple effect that takes a toll on the prostate gland and can lead to a host of disorders and even prostate cancer.
Men who are obese also are more likely to face kidney stones, erectile dysfunction, and infertility. Worse: They are twice as likely as women who are obese to die before age 70.
Encouraging a healthier diet and exercise are a good start. You might also want to suggest a checkup for underlying issues that might affect weight, require special dietary considerations, or inhibit exercise.
Heart disease is responsible for almost one in four male deaths. And it can stay quiet until it kills; about half of men who die from heart attack didn’t know they had a problem.
That’s where you come in. Especially if a man you love has risk factors like a crummy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, or a high alcohol intake, encourage a checkup and some healthy changes.
After age 65, men and women lose bone density at the same rate, which can lead to fractures and disability. Certain medications make osteoporosis even more likely.
Weight-bearing exercise and calcium and vitamin D supplements help minimize bone loss.
Did you know erectile dysfunction can be a sign of heart disease? In fact, ED is linked to a whole host of chronic diseases.
If it happens now and then, no big deal, but if ED becomes a regular occurrence, it may just be a sign of stress—or it may mean something much more troubling is going on, like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. Only one way to know for sure: Get that man to a physician.
One in six men is diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 60% of these occur after age 65. Frequent urination is a symptom, and so is blood in the urine. If the prostate has become enlarged, it might cause pain when sitting.
Men can find out the state of their prostate through a blood test or the tried-and-true digital rectal exam. Eating a lot of vegetables and whole grains and keeping fat to a minimum have been shown to lower risk of cancers.
Testicular cancer usually shows up in men between the ages of 15 and 35. The symptoms include lump or swelling in a testicle, breast growth or soreness, and early puberty. As it advances, it can cause low back pain, chest pain, and headaches.
If treated early, testicular cancer has more than a 90% survival rate, which is all the reason in the world to drive a man with symptoms to the MD, STAT.
Often, depression looks very different in men than women, so it’s a lot more likely to go undiagnosed. Men experience more physical symptoms, for instance, and are more likely to go down escapist routes, like spending hours playing video games.
Not only are men more resistant to acknowledging depression, they’re more successful than women when they attempt suicide. If you notice a man in your life exhibiting signs of depression, including reckless behavior, fatigue, inappropriate anger, increased alcohol intake, or physical symptoms like headache and digestive issues, suggest he take action. Depression is treatable.
And if you’re looking for some professional help keeping the man in your life around for a while, we can help you find a doctor. Sometimes, making health possible requires a little push.