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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | June 9th, 2019


    I am wearing blue this Friday because I love him – ‘him’ represents my husband, son, nephews, brothers, uncles, cousins and all men that I hold dear to my heart. This month is men’s health month and this week – June 10th – June 16th is men’s health week and the Friday (June 14th) before Father’s day is Wear Blue Day.

    The purpose of Men’s health week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.

    Did you know?

    • On average American men live sicker and die younger than American women. Men die five years earlier than women.
    • Women are 100 % more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men.
    • 30% of men experience depression, yet only 1 in 4 actually talk about it. Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide.
    • Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease, yet men do not know they have it. HPV can lead to other health issues later in life like cancer.
    • Erectile dysfunction is an early sign of cardiovascular disease (heart disease).
    • 1 in 2 men get cancer in their lifetime, for women it is 1 in 3. When cancer is found early, it is treatable.

    We can do something about this.  Yes, ladies, we can. We can help our men take charge of their health. Women are often the driving force for the health of our family.

    1. Encourage our men to get their check-ups – it might require us scheduling the appointment. When they go, tell them you want to know their numbers – Blood pressure, hemoglobin A1 C (screening test for diabetes) and lipid panel. Depending on their age, they will need to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, depression and prostate and colorectal cancer.
    2. Encourage our men to be active – they need to move. Tell them that exercise will improve their physical, mental and sexual health. They should get at least 30 minutes a day, however something is better than nothing. You can get some benefits if you join them. I love my three mile walks with my husband.
    3. Encourage our men to eat healthy every day with every meal – They need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. They can try a green salad instead of fries.  They can drink water instead of soda or juice.   Remind them that alcohol is full of calories and they should learn to limit the amount. I hated cooking but when I changed my attitude towards cooking and started cooking for the love of my family, cooking became a joy.
    4. Encourage our men to learn about their family history. By knowing their family history, they can know what disease they are risk of getting and will work towards decreasing the risk. My father and his father died at a very young age due to complications of diabetes.  My brothers are aware they are at increased risk.
    5. Encourage our men to get their vaccines. It never made sense to me when the HPV vaccine was only given to girls. HPV does not discriminate – women and men are at risk. Boys and girls need to get vaccinated. Vaccines are not only for children. There are vaccines that adults need.  When you get your vaccine, ask them if they have gotten theirs.
    6. Remind our men, that it takes two to get pregnant. They should use birth control, if they are not ready to have a baby. Condoms work if they are used properly all the time. The other added benefit of a condom is to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
    7. Encourage our men to talk. They need to know it is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength to know when you need help.
    8. Encourage our men to quit smoking. There is help out there. They can call the 1-800-QUITLINE.
    9. Encourage our men to get enough sleep.  Sleep is important for our physical and mental health.
    10. Encourage our men to be with other men. I know I love my occasional ladies night so I will not be depriving my husband of his occasional men’s night. Loneliness is not healthy.

    When Friday comes and I am asked why I am wearing blue – I will answer – I am wearing blue this Friday because I love ‘him’. I want him alive and healthy and I will do all that I can to make that happen.

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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