The answers to men's most popular health questions

Scientists even believe men's refusal to seek medical advice could be partly behind why women tend to live longer than them. Photo / 123RF
Scientists even believe men's refusal to seek medical advice could be partly behind why women tend to live longer than them. Photo / 123RF

They're known as the tougher sex and are often mocked as having 'man-flu' at the slightest sign of a sniffle.

But it is a well-established fact that men are less inclined to go to the doctors - often risking their health as a result.

Scientists even believe their refusal to seek medical advice could be partly behind why women tend to live longer than them.

So, if you've experienced eczema on your penis, an itchy bottom or the urgent need to go the toilet - experts advise you to visit your doctor as soon as you can.

While the Movember Foundation has done everything possible to boost awareness of men's health issues, men are still a third less likely than women to visit a health professional.

Previous research found the number one excuse men give to avoid seeing their doctor was that they were 'too busy'.

While being afraid of finding out something could be wrong with them came just behind.

Other frequent excuses included being uncomfortable with certain body examinations and some questions.

But November isn't the only month in which men should be aware of changes in their bodies.

Here, AXA PPP healthcare shed some light on some of the most popular men's health questions they get asked.

There are a number of skin conditions that can affect the penis, including atopic eczema (or atopic dermatitis) - the most common form of eczema.

Unfortunately there is no cure for eczema. It is a matter of discovering and avoiding allergens and preventing the skin from becoming dry by using medical moisturisers.

During a flare up of eczema, the skin becomes red, inflamed and itchy, which can lead to swelling of the skin and tiny blisters which can then rupture.
Infected skin can ooze clear or yellowish pus. Sometimes inflamed skin can become infected especially if it is around the penis, where there are more folds and creases.

In addition there is increased exposure to bacteria from urine and faeces which can thrive in a warm environment.

Eczema can be aggravated by temperature, irritants such as sweat and soap, stress, allergens and friction from tight clothing so it's important to work out if any of these are aggravating your condition.

The penis needs to be washed once or twice a day, after fully retracting the foreskin. Instead of using soap, washing with a cream such as an emulsifying ointment, sometimes with the addition of an antiseptic ingredient, can be helpful.

Ironically, after washing it is important to dry yourself thoroughly before applying any medical moisturiser.

These emollients, together with applying creams on the normal skin areas, will help to repair damage to the skin's natural barrier and reduce redness, swelling and itching.

Taking an antihistamine tablet will also help to stop the itching and reduce the urge to scratch.

When you scratch the skin it becomes irritated, increasing your risk of infection and making the eczema worse.

Steroid creams, such as Hyrdrocortisone or Eumovate can also help during a flare up to reduce the inflammation.

As with all health problems, it's important to see your GP for a detailed assessment.

A prickly sensation could be the result of a compressed nerve which is being trapped, and may only occur when you sit in a certain position.

If you are experiencing pain like this, it is worth visiting a specialist (neurologist) to find out if there are any other tests that need to be done.

Visiting a GP or specialist will also make you feel reassured that it is nothing more serious.

About 5 per cent of men over the age of 50 will develop a condition of the penis called Peyronie's disease.

This is a benign but potentially emotionally upsetting condition in which scar tissue develops on the shaft of the penis sometimes resulting in a penile bend noticeable with erections.

This can lead to sexual dysfunction with in some cases the affected man avoiding a sexual relationship altogether.

A proportion of affected men will find erections and intercourse too painful although others will simply notice a lump on the shaft of the penis or a minor painless penile bend which does not cause too much trouble.

Unfortunately there are no really effective cures for this condition, however we recommend visiting a GP for a more detailed assessment.

'I HAVE A PEA-SIZED LUMP JUST INSIDE MY ANUS'

If the lump is painful and itchy it would most likely be a pile (or a perianal haematoma).

They are caused when the bowels open and the anus is stretched too much. Sometimes a small vein inside the anus can leak or become swollen.

Piles usually get better without any treatment and are not serious.

Make sure your motions are soft and you avoid constipation by eating a healthy diet (rich in vegetables and fruit).

This prevents further stretching of the anus and will help the pile heal.

Keep the area very clean and use a pile/haemorrhoid cream to soothe the itching. If the itch continues, visit your GP for an examination to confirm the diagnosis.

A peri anal sinus (fistula) is an abnormal connection between the inside lining of the anus and the skin around the anus.

It usually develops after chronic infection of the anus wall. In time, a small hole develops between the anus and the skin, which will leak pus and sometimes other anal fluids.

Anal fistulas tend to cause repeated formation of abscess within the anal wall and are generally best dealt with surgically.

Operations usually involve opening the sinus to heal from the inside, with resulting eventual closure of the connection to the skin.

If left untreated, there is a chance that in time it may close naturally, but you are at risk of recurring infection.

TESTICULAR CANCER: HOW TO CHECK YOURSELF

Testicular cancer is another male cancer which should be checked for regularly, and just like other cancers, it can be easier to treat if detected early.

Symptoms include a dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum or a feeling of heaviness.

While discomfort in the lower abdomen, a sudden build-up of fluid and fatigue are other signs of the deadly disease.

By regularly examining yourself, you are more likely to notice if anything changes or feels unusual so it is best to make this a part of your usual daily routine.

The best time to check your testicles is after a warm shower, as this is when the skin is most relaxed, by following the below guide:

• Rest your testicles in the palms of your hands and compare one testicle with the other for equal heaviness. A lot of men have one testicle which is larger than the other, or one that hangs lower than the other, so don't worry if this is the case
• Place your fingers behind the scrotum and gently roll your testicle between your thumb and fingers
• You are looking out for any hard lump or swelling - or any particular changes in shape. Make sure you check each testicle individually
• A normal testicle is oval shaped and feels firm, but not hard
• Most cases of testicular cancer start with a painless lump in the testicle; though sometimes there can be pain or discomfort or a heavy feeling in the scrotum. Make sure you consult your GP as soon as possible if you experience any of these sensations, or if you find a lump

Evelyn Wallace, cancer care operations manager at AXA PPP healthcare, said: 'Most testicular lumps or swellings are not a sign of cancer, but they should never be ignored and it's important you visit your GP as soon as you notice any changes.

Source: AXA PPP Healthcare

- Daily Mail

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