Being a lighter approach to a serious topic, Movember aims to draw people’s attention to the exceedingly present threats surrounding men’s health. With November being earmarked as Movember, the annual event involves the growing of moustaches to raise awareness of issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.
With the month focused on men’s health, the Newcastillian – Online News speaks to Dr Mahesh Dhanjee, a renowned Specialist Urologist and Robotic Surgeon, to find out more regarding the significance of the initiative.
As a medical professional dedicated to his career, Dr Dhanjee elucidates, “I have been in the privileged position of serving the urologic needs of the Newcastle community for more than two decades now. Unfortunately, over this time, the most prevalent health-related issues remain unchanged.”
Pointing out that cardiovascular disease remains an important and widely prevalent cause of urologic disease in Newcastle—whereby the Doctor states “Erectile dysfunction is often an early marker for cardiovascular disease, and often predates the onset of cardiac symptoms by 2-3 years. Also, diets high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats not only increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, but studies have linked such poor dietary habits to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Poor dietary habits have also been shown to play a role in the development of kidney stones.”
When touching on the often overlooked point of low testosterone, according to Dr Dhanjee, “Diminished sex drive, erectile dysfunction insomnia, diminished muscle strength, weight gain, lethargy, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension could all be related to a low testosterone level. This condition is called hypogonadism. If properly diagnosed, and treated, it not only restores sexual function but often at times improves or corrects the blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels too.”
He adds it is essential to remember that not attending to issues such as that of erectile dysfunction could potentially leave underlying cardiovascular risks unchecked, leaving the patient vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes. “Leaving prostate issues unchecked could mean that potentially curable prostate cancer goes untreated, which could cause severe distress or death”.
It is imperative to note that check-ups are not limited to adult men, but are vitally important for young boys and adolescent men too, especially when considering the reasons why.
Dr Dhanjee stresses men and boys (of all ages) need to visit a urologist for a variety of reasons. He begins by explaining, “Young boys may only feel one testicle in the scrotum, or at times have no testicles present. This is a condition known as undescended testis and needs to be corrected ASAP in order to preserve long-term fertility for the patient.”
Furthermore, the Doctor adds that adolescent boys may often have swelling of one of the testicles, usually the left one. Going on to elaborate, “When standing in front of a mirror, it often has the appearance of a “bag of worms”. This also needs urgent attention to prevent it from adversely affecting the patient’s fertility.”
Young men at times develop inflammation or infection in the prostate gland, and suddenly exhibit urinary symptoms which can cause pain, the passing of blood in the urine, and sometimes even an inability to pass urine. Dr Dhanjee emphasises all men over the age of 50 years old should see a urologist annually to routinely screen for prostate cancer, such is the threat of this illness. He explains this would include a detailed history of any urinary symptoms, a full physical examination, including a rectal exam, as well as a blood test, to check the level of a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).
A valid question to ask is, why do men tend to ignore or neglect their health? Dr Dhanjee clarifies by saying, men generally engage in risk-taking behaviour. He highlights, “Traditionally, men did not seek medical attention for anything. They felt that they are too macho to ask for medical assistance. Fortunately, this attitude is changing. Men are more aware of men’s health issues, and this is mainly due to information available via the print media, internet and social media. Men have also begun discussing health issues with their friends and colleagues, just like their female counterparts have been doing for many decades.”
In order to place men’s minds at ease, what does the process entail?
The Doctor begins by stating that a visit to the urologist should be no different from a visit scheduled for any other medical practitioner. To shed further light, Dr Dhanjee describes how the visit works. “Usually, the patient’s general practitioner, or sometimes the patient himself, makes an appointment with the urologist’s office. Many modern practices have a website which also provides for the possibility of making online bookings. It is important to be relaxed and to feel comfortable in the presence of your urologist. After all, one will be discussing some of life’s most intimate issues with the urologist.”
What are some of the significant misconceptions’ men have about their bodies and what does the doctor feel men should know? “Men have the sense of bravado that they are invincible. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. If men feel a growth in the scrotum, or have urinary symptoms, blood in the urine, or any other urologic symptoms, they should seek urologic attention immediately.”
As the Doctor focuses on men’s health, what changes does he advise men should make in their lives to improve their prostate, urinary and sexual health? “The most important lifestyle changes include following a healthy diet, devoid of refined carbohydrates, low in saturated fat, and filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. This, coupled with regular exercise, will ensure not only good general and cardiovascular health, but will also prevent erectile dysfunction, and potentially decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Needless to say, the use of tobacco, recreational drugs and the abuse of alcohol would all contribute to urologic disease and poor sexual health. In fact, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of bladder cancer the world over.”
As Dr Dhanjee shares valuable insight and knowledge on the subject of men’s health, why are initiatives such as Movember necessary?
He begins by explaining Movember presents an opportunity for men to become aware of health issues affecting them, and to take stock of their urologic health. Also, for men older than 50 years of age, it provides a reminder to have the prostate checks done.
Pixelfish Marketing and The Newcastillian – Online News are joining forces with Mediclinic Newcastle for Movember. This to elevate the level of consciousness surrounding men’s health while motivating guys to take their health seriously.
Therefore in the spirit of Movember, share images of you totting your moustache with the Newcastillian – Online News by visiting our Facebook page and posting your pics in the comment section or by sending them through to our Editor on email@example.com before the end of November and stand the chance of winning a prize from Mediclinic Newcastle worth R1 000!
Show your support and grow a ‘stach for all the men out there! Be a true man and see your urologist this month.