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10 embarrassing symptoms men shouldn't ignore

Medical 19/06/2015 Jane Murphy
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On average, men go to the doctor's half as often as women, according to NHS statistics. So, do they simply enjoy better health? Unlikely. Many men just can't bear the thought of talking about symptoms they find embarrassing, so prefer to bury their heads in the sand. Sound familiar? You could be putting your wellbeing - sometimes even your life - at risk.

During Men's Health Week (15-21 June), it's time to stop being embarrassed and consult your GP about these 10 common symptoms...

'I've got a lump on my testicles'

Don't panic! There are many different causes of testicular swellings and lumps - and less than four out of 100 turn out to be cancer, according to Cancer Research UK. But why take that risk?

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer that affects men between the ages of 20 and 35 - and like all cancers, early detection is key to survival chances.

Even if a lump turns out to be benign, it may still be possible to have it surgically removed if it's causing you great pain or discomfort.

'I'm having trouble peeing'

Six out of 10 men don't know where their prostate is, according to a recent survey for Prostate Cancer UK.

But when the prostate is enlarged, it can press on the urethra, making it difficult to empty the bladder properly. The majority of cases are benign.

However, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK - and risk increases greatly with age.

In the UK, one in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease. So, if you're experiencing difficulties peeing, seek medical help as soon as possible.

'There's blood in my poo'

The most likely explanation for this? You're suffering from haemorrhoids - otherwise known as piles.

If that's the case, the blood will be bright red. Most cases will clear up on their own but eating plenty of fibre, drinking lots of water and staying off the booze will all help. You can also pick up an over-the-counter treatment from your local pharmacy.

But if the blood is dark in colour and sticky, it may be coming from higher up your digestive system - and could be a sign of something more serious. So consult your GP immediately.

'I've got a funny-looking mole'

A mole that becomes itchy or looks unusual - if it changes colour or shape, for example - could be cancerous.

That's why it's so important to check your moles regularly and report any changes to your GP.

Not sure whether yours is worth worrying about? Find out using the NHS mole checker.

'I'm always sweating buckets'

Most people produce about a litre of sweat each day. But an unfortunate 2% of the population suffers from excess sweating - or hyperhidrosis, to use the medical term - and can sweat up to 10 times that amount daily. Unsurprisingly, this can have a hugely negative effect on wellbeing.

The solution? Using antiperspirant (instead of deodorant), avoiding spicy foods and booze, and wearing breathable cotton clothing may all help.

However, medication and other interventions may also be appropriate - so do talk through the possible causes and treatments with your GP.

'I'm feeling fat and out of shape'

Being overweight is a major risk factor in a long list of serious conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes.

And a significantly greater proportion of men than women are overweight or obese in the UK - 66% compared to 57%, according to research in 2011.

Having trouble losing weight? Don't aim for too much too soon: shedding a pound or two each week is the safest way to shape up, the British Heart Foundation advises.

See your GP to discuss all the available options.

'I can't hear what you're saying'

Around 50% of Brits are concerned about their hearing but haven't taken any action, according to a recent survey for Hidden Hearing. And several US studies have indicated that men may be more at risk from hearing loss than women.

But a hearing problem can seriously affect your health and wellbeing. So, why put up with it?

Your GP can refer you for a hearing test if necessary. And the NHS provides discreet hearing aids free of charge, including repairs, batteries and servicing.

'I can't maintain an erection'

Erectile dysfunction is very common. In fact, half of all men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer from it to some degree, according to the NHS. The causes?

It could be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormone problems, stress or anxiety - all of which need to be addressed as soon as possible.

So don't be embarrassed about consulting your GP: chances are they've already seen someone else with the same problem today.

'My snoring's out of control'

Twice as many men as women snore, according to the NHS. And the knock-on effects can be hugely destructive: extreme tiredness, poor concentration and relationship problems, to name just a few.

The solution? There are plenty - from wearing nasal strips to losing weight. Discuss what may work best for you with your GP or pharmacist.

Snoring may also be a symptom of sleep apnoea, which is a serious breathing condition. So if you wake up gasping or choking during the night, don't put off seeking medical help.

'My breath always stinks'

You probably don't need us to tell you that having bad breath can be ruinous for your relationships - both socially and professionally.

Most cases of bad breath are down to poor dental hygiene, so your dentist is probably best placed to offer advice.

For starters, ensure you brush your teeth and gums correctly and keep your tongue clean. And if you're a smoker, this is just one more very good reason to give up. Still stinky?

That's when you should see your GP. There may be another underyling cause that needs investigating.

Worries about your health? Visit our symptom checker for more advice

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