10 things you didn’t know about men’s health (but should)

For men and the people who love them

June 13-19 is Men’s Health Week— part of National Men’s Health Month—created to remind men to take care of their bodies and attend to their mental and emotional health.

This is important because, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, American men still live an average of five years less than women (76.1 years versus 81.1), and many of their health risks are very responsive to prevention and lifestyle changes.

Here are 10 facts you might not know about men’s health:

  1. Men develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than women and are more likely to die of it at a younger age.

Heart attacks and cardiovascular disease are the leading cause of death among all Americans, whatever their gender. Men, however, usually develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than women and are more likely to die of it at a younger age. The conditions that lead to heart disease—like high cholesterol, high blood pressure—are also more common among men. In addition, these two indicators are also among a cluster of conditions called metabolic syndrome, which also raises the risk for diabetes and kidney disease.

Despite these sobering statistics, bear in mind that heart disease and stroke are largely preventable with exercise, healthful eating, and stress management!

  1. Men are less likely than women to see a doctor, even when they believe they may have a serious health problem.

According to a 2016 survey of 500 men conducted by Cleveland Clinic, nearly 60% of American men don’t go to the doctor—even when (or perhaps because) they fear they have a serious medical condition. To make matters worse, 40% of American men don’t visit the doctor for an annual checkup, when emerging health issues might be identified and corrected.

Although men do tend to pay more attention to their health as they age, their outcomes would likely improve if they were more focused on health maintenance and disease prevention—including regular check-ups—throughout their lives.

  1. Men of all ages are less likely to know the age to be screened for various health conditions.

In keeping with their tendency to postpone doctor visits, a majority of men do not know the appropriate age to be screened for various health conditions—such as high blood pressure, prostate cancer, and colorectoral cancer.

For reference, the American Heart Association recommends regular cardiovascular and blood pressure screenings starting at age 20. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend screening for colorectal cancer between ages 50-75, and the Urology Care Foundation recommends prostate cancer screenings beginning at age 55.

  1. Men are less likely to suffer from mental health problems but are more likely to commit suicide.

Although mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are more common in women, men are more likely to commit suicide. In 2020, 7 out of 10 suicides were committed by men—nearly 4 times the rate for women. The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men.

Along with reluctance to visit a doctor for physical ailments, men appear to be even more unlikely to seek help for depression. Yet seeing a doctor for depression could be lifesaving—literally.

  1. Male depression frequently appears as anger or aggression.

This is another under-appreciated fact about male mental health: Depression in men is often expressed as anger or aggression rather that sadness or listlessness. Thus, friends and family do not appropriately intervene—and even men themselves might not recognize their anger for what it is: a symptom of depression.

  1. The male stress response amplifies health risks.

Most people have heard of the “fight or flight” response to aggression, danger, or other stressful situations. When triggered, the body floods the bloodstream with adrenaline and cortisol, activating muscles, and preparing for battle or escape.

Most contemporary stress, however, does not require a physical response. The same stress hormones are triggered, but the body doesn’t get an opportunity to discharge them. The result in men is higher blood pressure, abdominal fat deposition, and plaque accumulation in the arteries—the precursors to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke.

In recent years another stress response—called “tend and befriend”—may explain why women do not experience the same physical health effects of chronic stress. An influential study published in the July 2000 issue of Psychological Review reported that females are more likely to deal with stress by reaching out to and nurturing those around them. “Tending involves nurturant activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process,” one of the study’s researchers said. The difference may be related to women’s higher release of oxytocin—the “bonding” hormone.

  1. Men are more likely to neglect stress management.

Although men can’t control the amount of oxytocin their body produces in response to stressful situations, they can recognize that their biological response is working against them and take counteractive measures. These can range from talking about their day (including their stress), to making vigorous exercise a priority (discharging those pesky hormones), to practicing mental health self-care, including enough sleep, a healthy diet, getting outdoors, and investing in their relationships.

Golfing is an example of how many men practice stress management. They’re outdoors, discharging their stressful energy in a challenging way, while enjoying the companionship of other men. Although they might not discuss their stressful feelings explicitly, they are benefitting from their connection to other men—inducing the “tending and befriending” hormone, oxytocin. For other men, the escape might be basketball, or bowling, or tennis. The point is to prioritize a relaxing diversion that works for you.

  1. Men express significantly higher touch deprivation than women

Humans are neurologically wired for touch receptivity. Affectionate touch contributes to both psychological health and the body’s ability to manage stress and reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, men in our culture receive many mixed messages about touch, which is often confused with sexuality. As a result, men report significantly higher average affection deprivation than women, where “affection” refers to tactile affectionate communication. This contributes to higher associations with loneliness, depression, stress, personality, mood and anxiety disorders, and secondary immune disorders. Affection deprivation also shows negative linear associations with general health, happiness, social support, relationship satisfaction, and attachment security.

  1. Men’s skincare needs are different

Men typically have more sebaceous (oil-producing) glands and larger pores than women, giving their skin a rougher appearance. Their skin also tends to be oilier and more acne-prone, plus they have facial hair. All of this means that appropriate skincare for men is different than skincare for women as I explain in this blog post: Men’s Skin: Why You Need to Care for It Differently. For the Cliff Notes version: emphasize cleansing; be faithful with sunscreen; and use a light moisturizer.

  1. Lower life expectancy for men can be addressed—with longer life results!

Here are the leading causes of death for men:

Heart disease

Cancer (lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, urinary/bladder cancer, and melanoma).

Accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, falls and poisonings, drowning and fires/burns.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)


Influenza and pneumonia


Kidney disease


Some experts attribute men’s younger mortality rate to their tendency to drink and smoke more, or to continue the eating habits they developed while young and active as they age into a far more sedentary and more stressful adulthood.

However, men can lower their risk of many of these ailments by leading a Modern Wellness lifestyle that emphasizes proper nutrition, regular exercise, being kind to your mind (stress management), and nourishing your skin. Plus, getting regular medical check-ups!

Like this article? Share it with a man in your life!

#ModernWellness #ConqueringCulturalStress

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider, who should also be consulted with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.


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