The parliamentary inquiry into men’s health in the UK continues as further evidence was given to the Health and Social Care Committee. Men’s Health Forum reports that their CEO Martin Todd attended the second session on 23 January, alongside representatives from Prostate Cancer UK, the Movember charity, and men’s health, inclusion and domestic abuse charities.

The committee will consider why men in certain areas of the UK consistently have worse health outcomes in many areas than women, and also have a lower overall life expectancy. A statement on the UK Parliament website explained: 

“The session will look at risk factors behind health conditions that disproportionately affect men such as cardiovascular disease, and conditions that are particular to men including prostate cancer. Awareness of risk factors for prostate cancer and whether the current approach to screening needs updating are among issues likely to be covered.”

It continued: “Barriers to men accessing health or screening services and whether action is needed to encourage the take-up by men at an early stage are among questions expected to be raised.”

“The inquiry is examining men’s mental health, wellbeing, and inequalities. High rates of suicide among men were the focus of the first session of the inquiry. What can be done to address underlying issues to improve prospects for men and all aspects of their health is the broad focus of the inquiry.”

The Men’s Health Forum is a charity dedicated to raising awareness of men’s health issues and addressing inequalities in policies and services that affect men and boys. Currently, one man in five in the UK dies before the age of 65, often from treatable or preventable diseases. 

In particular, the charity is advocating the case for a unified men’s health strategy, which would be the equivalent of the government’s formal women’s health strategy. The charity reports some sobering statistics regarding the current state of male mortality rates. 

For example, the biggest cause of male death under the age of 50 is suicide, and 75% of all deaths by suicide are by men. Men are 26% more likely than women to have type 2 diabetes, and also have much worse outcomes from the condition, making up 68.5% of all diabetic amputations. 

Men also represent 76% of all premature deaths from heart disease and are 43% more likely to die of cancer. All this ultimately affects the nation’s productivity and economy through billions of lost working hours and places greater strain on the resources and finances of the NHS and social care services. 

Of course, poor health and early mortality also place a great emotional burden on men’s families and friends of both genders. Other countries, including Ireland, Australia and Brazil, already have men’s health strategies in place that have boosted male life expectancy. 

It is hoped that the current parliamentary enquiry will produce the same results for men in the UK. One of the biggest barriers that can prevent men from seeking and receiving treatment at a timely stage in an illness is a reluctance to visit the doctor. 

This can particularly be the case if they are suffering from a very personal and sensitive problem such as erectile dysfunction (ED). Many nurses, reception staff, and GPs are now women, creating a rather off-putting environment for men who are suffering from what they perceive to be an ‘embarrassing’ problem. 

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, it is a myth that men do not care about their health. However, they feel unable to discuss their concerns openly because they do not perceive healthcare services to be a man-friendly environment. The study points out that online NHS services are used in equal numbers by men and women. 

When the anonymous Impotence Association helpline was introduced 20 years ago, it received tens of thousands of calls from men about ED, proving that there is a strong desire among men to talk about and address the problem. The issue is not just about men leading sexually fulfilling lives, although this is of course important.

ED is often the first physical sign of a serious underlying health problem, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. It doesn’t necessarily indicate other illnesses, but it’s important to visit a doctor for the best chance of any other condition being diagnosed and successfully treated in the early stages.

Once any underlying conditions are ruled out, the doctor may recommend an ED medication such as Viagra. It is possible to buy cheap sildenafil from an online pharmacy.