Men’s health – the silent epidemic?    

Mens Health 3
Mental Health

Men’s health – the silent epidemic?    

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There’s been a huge amount of support recently for awareness of women’s health and better access to healthcare for women. Understandably and rightly so, since the body of research available to us has only in recent years been addressed to properly represent women. However, pioneering the forefront of female health does not need to be at the detriment of men’s health, and further research and resources are badly needed across all of society to better understand the risks and issues affecting every demographic.

Did you know that:

  • Between the ages of 50 – 74, men have a 40% greater probability of dying than women1
  • Boys born right now can expect to die 4.5 years earlier than girls2
  • Men accounted for 18% more Covid deaths than women5
  • (However,) the main killers are cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory disease – all non-communicable diseases, ie diseases you don’t catch4
  • The biggest killer of men under 45 is actually suicide, with the leading underlying cause being depression2

But why?

A World Health Organization report from 20183, suggests a key reason to be beliefs, attitudes and stereotypes that seem to create an environment whereby men are less likely to seek medical services. They also highlight a lack of knowledge around symptoms and treatments and services, especially in the area of sexual health4.

A British Medical Journal report on European Health7 also highlighted this gap in either knowledge or seeking of medical services by highlighting that later detection and treatment in men could be causing their higher mortality rate from type 2 diabetes, as well as explain why they are dying faster from cancer than women are.

According to Dr David Webber, President of the International Self-Care Foundation, there are seven key pillars that need to be urgently addressed6:

  1. Health Literacy
  2. Mental Wellbeing
  3. Healthy Eating
  4. Physical Activity
  5. Risk Avoidance
  6. Personal Hygiene
  7. Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics and medicines

When it comes to addressing any of these pillars, the starting point has to be conversation and awareness. This recent Men’s Health article8 cites no less than 21 different reasons why men are not talking about their mental health and seeking assistance, including “people will think I’m weak” and “I don’t want to be judged”. Something that everyone needs to be aware of, especially in the workplace.

Pre-pandemic, Prof Alan White published the paper “Social Isolation”9 , which talked about the need for humans, and particularly men to have social connection. His research deemed this element more important even than healthy eating and exercise, and yet immediately after its publication the world was launched into global lockdowns , measures that caused even more social isolation. Is it any wonder that there is a downturn in life expectancy for men in the last couple of years?

When considering the disproportionate number of male suicides in under 45s, there seems to be a correlation to the life stage of fatherhood. This is a time when social connection and need for conversation around mental health is paramount. The pressure of supporting families both financially and emotionally is cited as playing a key role, with further increased rates of depression being experienced by the partners of women who experience postnatal depression and within couples experiencing fertility challenges2.

Then the next stage of life is also has important implications for health and wellness – andropause, the male equivalent of menopause. There has been a great deal of increased awareness around menopause in recent years, incredibly valuable and important work. However, few acknowledge or discuss that men also go through a change in their hormones at this life stage whereby there is a reduction specifically in testosterone levels.

Declining testosterone increases a man’s risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression10, however it’s not widely discussed. It also doesn’t happen as suddenly as happens with women, meaning that symptoms may not appear so acutely and rather build up over time such that they are harder to identify. Approximately one in five men may actually be suffering from low levels of testosterone, known as hypogonadism, before middle age. This can cause a decrease in libido and energy, depression, erectile dysfunction, infertility, a decrease in facial and body hair, decrease in muscle mass and even osteoporosis. Are men aware of this? Do they discuss it? Do they seek help when symptoms occur?

The good news is that with increased awareness, there is plenty of great support and treatment options for men. Screening schemes are becoming more widely available, and there is pressure to medical services to extend this further. I encourage every man to take up their offer and make the most of these services that are providing earlier detection and therefore earlier treatment for health issues. Mental health is also becoming less taboo, and I see more and more men speaking up about their own experiences, as well as companies supporting their employees better in this area. And the fact that the bigger threats of diabetes and heart disease are non-communicable, means that factors such as diet, exercise and lifestyle can be modulated to support better outcomes too, just so long as there is the right access to education and support.

So, for International Men’s Health Week, let’s all make the effort to share this message a little wider to help men to get the health support they need to start turning some of these statistics around.

Written by Wellness Cloud Nutritionist and Health Coach, Catherine Pohl


  1. Baker, Peter. “Men’s Health: A Global Problem Requiring Global Solutions.” Trends in Urology & Men’s Health, vol. 7, no. 3, May 2016, pp. 11-14.,
  2. The Lancet. “Raising the Profile of Men’s Health.” The lancet, vol. 349, no. 10211, Nov. 2019, p. 1779., https:///
  3. ‘Men’s Health.’ World Health Organization,
  4. ‘Strategy on the health and well-being of men in the WHO European Region.’ WHO
  5. Buxton, Julian. “National Life Tables – Life Expectancy in the UK: 2018 to 2020.” Office for National Statistics, 22 Sept 2021.
  6. Men’s Health Report. GLOBAL ACTION ON MEN’S HEALTH, 10 June 2021,
  7. Malcher, Gregory. “The State of Men’s Health in Europe.” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 29 Nov. 2011.
  8. Men’s Health Magazine, May 2020
  9. White, Alan, et al. “Social Isolation and Loneliness: A Hidden Killer.” Trends in Urology & Men’s Health, vol. 11, no. 4, July 2020, pp. 31-35.
  10. Yeo, S. et al. “Burden of Male Hypogonadism and Major Comorbidities, and the Clinical, Economic, and Humanistic Benefits of Testosterone Therapy: A Narrative Review.” ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research. 2021; 13: 31–38.