This Movember, we're breaking down the barriers that often block men from getting lifesaving healthcare and cancer screenings. The biggest barrier in 2020? COVID-19.
You've been told to stay home as much as possible, which may make routine doctor appointments seem out of the question. But taking care of yourself now is more important than ever, especially given some surprising men's health trends that have emerged during the pandemic. Here's what to know and what to do.
Men may feel more comfortable during telehealth visits.
Although telemedicine has been around for a while, COVID-19 prompted many healthcare providers to offer routine virtual visits. A surprising and positive trend emerged: Some men started opening up more to their doctors about potentially embarrassing health concerns. For some, telehealth messaging systems offer an increased sense of privacy and anonymity. Email and messaging can make topics such as sexual or behavioral health easier to discuss. Have a question you've been hesitating to ask? Talk to your doctor about setting up a telehealth portal.
Gym closings can affect men's mental health as much as their physical health.
Few businesses were spared from mandated closings over the spring and summer, and gyms were no exception. Some men realized that hitting the gym had become crucial for their mental health as well as physical. A lot of men rely on gym rotations as a socialization opportunity. Staying connected can help combat another nationwide crisis: loneliness in middle-aged men. With this outlet gone, male loneliness and depression can rise. If you or someone you care about is struggling with isolation, try joining an outdoor fitness club or a Zoom workout group. Participating in regular physical activity with others, even online, is a great way to feel part of a community.
A pandemic causes stress, pushing some toward healthier lifestyles.
The Cleveland Clinic surveyed about 1,000 men across the U.S. to discover how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, both physically and mentally. Not surprisingly, most men (77%) said their stress level had increased since March 2020. 59% said that the pandemic had a worse effect on their mental health than the 2008 financial crisis.
Fortunately, some men have noted an increase in health or have made some healthy lifestyle changes during the pandemic. About a fifth of respondents said they were exercising more and/or eating healthier since the pandemic began. Over a quarter of the men said they were sleeping more. However, 40% admitted they were struggling to stay healthy, with 24% reporting weight gain.
Heart attack deaths have doubled.
Evidence suggests that both men and women have been avoiding hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, even when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. The heart attack death rate has doubled since early 2020. However, men are disproportionately represented by these alarming statistics because they historically have a greater risk of heart attack than women. Even before COVID-19, heart disease was the leading cause of death among men (and women).
Call 911 if you have any concerning signs.
Prostate cancer diagnoses have declined.
On the surface, fewer cancer diagnoses may seem like a good thing. But this decline is directly related to a decline in cancer screenings. Routine care became less accessible in the early days of the COVID shutdown. Some individuals have avoided healthcare facilities due to fears of contracting COVID. Now that medical offices have opened up again for routine exams and screenings talk to your doctor about rescheduling any appointments that had to be canceled earlier in the year.