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    We Care for Our Men

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | June 9th, 2024

    We Care for Our Men

    This Father’s Day, my children and I have a special surprise for my husband, their father. While I would love to take all the credit, it was actually our youngest who had the brilliant idea. Instead of typical gifts, she suggested something more meaningful—eight sessions with a personal trainer through the YMCA. It is a gift that benefits not only him but all of us, emphasizing our care for his well-being.

    June is Men’s Health Month, and June 10th to June 16th is Men’s Health Week. It is usually the week before Father’s Day and ends on Father’s Day, with the Friday before Father’s Day (June 14th) as Wear Blue Day for Men’s Health. The purpose of the month, the week, and the day is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among our men. These men are our fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins, and all male figures that hold our affection.

    Here are the statistics:

    • Men in the U.S. die nearly six years earlier than women.
    • Non-Hispanic Black and American Indian/Alaska Native men have a lower life expectancy than non-Hispanic white men.
    • 63% of men of color report not getting regular health screenings.
    • Men have a higher death rate of leading causes of death, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide.
    • Men are more likely to have lower health literacy levels than women, meaning they may need help finding, understanding, and using information and services required to make informed decisions about their health.

    We can change these statistics by taking proactive steps to support the men in our lives. Here are some suggestions to help our loved ones prioritize their health:

    1. Encourage him to get his check-ups. You might have to schedule and take him to his appointments. He needs to know his numbers: Blood pressure, hemoglobin A1C (a screening test for diabetes), and lipid panel (cholesterol). Depending on his age, he will need to be screened for sexually transmitted infections, depression, and prostate and colorectal cancer.
    1. Encourage him to be active – He needs to move. Tell him that exercise will improve his physical, mental, and sexual health. He should get at least 30 minutes a day. However, something is better than nothing. You can exercise with him. You can gift him a personal trainer. They are cheaper at the Y.
    1. Encourage him to eat healthily daily with every meal – He needs to eat various fruits and vegetables. He can try a green salad instead of fries. He can drink water instead of soda or juice. Remind him alcohol is full of calories and he should learn to limit the amount. All the fruits I want my husband to eat are within eyesight in the fruit basket. Any fruits that need to be cut up, I cut it up. I want to make it easy for him to get all the fruits he needs. Some stores sell fruits already cut up.
    1. Encourage him to learn about his family history. By knowing his family history, he can know what diseases he is at risk of getting and can then work towards decreasing the risk. My father and his father died at a very young age due to complications of diabetes. My brothers and my son are aware of their family history.
    1. Encourage him to get his vaccines. It never made sense to me when the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was only given to girls. HPV does not discriminate – women and men are at risk. Boys and girls need to get vaccinated. We have a vaccine that can prevent cancer related to HPV. Yes, men cannot get cervical cancer, but they can get throat and anal cancer associated with HPV. Of note is that the age to get the HPV vaccine has been extended to 45 years for both men and women. Please make sure he gets his vaccines. Make sure he is up to date with all his vaccines. When you are getting your vaccine, make sure he is getting his vaccine.
    1. Remind him it takes two to get pregnant. If he is not ready to be a father, he must use condoms. Condoms work if they are used properly all the time. The other added benefit of a condom is to protect against sexually transmitted infections.
    1. Encourage him to talk. He needs to know that knowing when to ask for help is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Check-in with him and take time to listen.
    1. Encourage him to quit smoking. There is help out there. He can call 1-800-QUIT-LINE.
    1. Encourage him to get enough sleepSleep is essential for our physical and mental health. To get enough sleep, he may need to remove all electronics from the bedroom.
    1. Encourage him to be with other men. I love my occasional ladies’ night, so I will not deprive my husband of his occasional men’s night. Encourage him to spend time with friends and engage in activities that foster social connections and combat loneliness. Loneliness is not good for your health.

    This Men’s Health Week, let us show the men in our lives how much we care by supporting their health and well-being. Remember to wear your blue on Friday, June 14, 2024. Together, we can make a difference in their lives and those around them. Happy Father’s Day.

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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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