Last week men across the UK were encouraged to seek help with their health issues to mark Men's Health Week, the annual awareness campaign led by the Men's Health Forum. It aims to heighten awareness of preventable health problems among men and go some way to minimising the stigma that is often associated with men's health issues, particularly sexual health.
We, as a nation, need to be more open and honest about sexual health. Recent research commissioned by Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor found that almost half (46%) of patients admit they have been too embarrassed to discuss symptoms with their doctor and nearly four fifths (79%) confess to being embarrassed about their GP examining intimate parts of their body.
Being too embarrassed to come forward can be potentially very dangerous, particularly when it comes to sexual health. Public Health England* recently released its latest statistics on STI diagnoses rates, which were widely reported in the media. It illustrated that there is still a widespread problem of people having unsafe sex and putting themselves at risk of contracting STIs - the issue is especially prevalent in young adults. A major part of this problem will also be down to men (and women) not addressing their sexual health concerns. Many of these easily treatable infections can have serious health implications if they are ignored, and can encourage the spread that has seen the recent reported increase.
So what can be done to encourage men to come forward? Education is vital. That's why initiatives like Men's Health Week are so important in helping to raise awareness of often neglected health concerns. But also providing more easily accessible places for people to go for advice will help. We now live in an age where seeking help can be done at the click of a button on the internet. It has allowed men who may be too embarrassed to address intimate health issues to go in search of answers; from diagnosis to treatment. There is a wealth of information available online yet one thing that is not certain is how reliable it all is - if you are in doubt at all about the legitimacy of a site then you really shouldn't take any risks with the health advice that is available on it.
The Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor - https://onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/ - service has been offering STI tests and treatments for almost 10 years and has for many people been a discrete alternative to having to see their GP face to face. The service can help with a wide range of male health issues, from sexual health diagnoses and treatments, through to treating erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and male baldness - the kinds of health issues men tend to want to avoid talking about.
It's important that we start to address these lesser talked about health problems. With better awareness and a greater willingness from men to share their intimate health problems then hopefully next time we'll be talking about a decrease in STIs.
*Nearly half a million new sexual infections in 2012, Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nearly-half-a-million-new-sexual-infections-in-2012