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Men’s Health Month: A reminder to focus on physical, mental well-being

A doctor looking into a soldier's ear Senior Airman Jano Galinada is examined by Tech. Sgt. James Miller, an independent duty medical technician, in June 2019 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Biese)

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June marks Men's Health Month, a time to focus on the physical and mental well-being of men. Overall good health relies on screenings and other evaluations with health care providers based on age, diet, and lifestyle choices, including tobacco and alcohol use. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent National Health Interview Survey, men are far more likely than women to go two years or longer without seeing a physician or other health care professional.

Experts don’t necessarily think men are healthier than women. Rather, men may be avoiding making medical appointments.

"I think a lot of us may have that tough man syndrome, the overall machismo mentality that whatever it is, I can power through it," said Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Matthew Hawks, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

But regular appointments have proven vital for the prevention, detection, and early treatment of illness and disease. So what are men waiting for? Whether making a virtual or in-person appointment, here are some tips for preparing to talk with a health care provider.

Learn your family health history

Family health history may influence a man's risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, according to the CDC. Health care providers can assess risk factors and recommend specific screening tests.

For example, men ages 18 to 35 should have their blood pressure measured every three to five years, Hawks said. But those with a family history of high blood pressure may require more frequent screenings. And while screening for colorectal cancer usually begins at age 45 or 50, "If you had a parent who had colorectal cancer before the age of 60, we start screening sooner," Hawks said.

Make a list of questions and concerns

Are you feeling pain, dizziness, or fatigue? Are you having trouble sleeping? Take note of when you first recognized any changes. The CDC recommends leaving space between each observation to record the health care provider's comments and recommendations.

Hawks said men also may want to consider these questions: "What's changed in your life? What's going well, or not going well?" He also recommends asking loved ones if they've noticed anything that should be brought up at a medical appointment.

"Some of the literature suggests that one of the most common reasons men make medical appointments is because their spouse or significant other tells them that they should," Hawks said.

Vow to be open and honest

Men should be forthcoming about everything, including their use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, alcohol, and tobacco and vaping products. Providing complete and accurate information enables providers to offer the best guidance, Hawks said. For example, men with any smoking history should get an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening at age 65.

Don't forget about sexual health

"We obviously encourage safe sexual practices," Hawks said, to avoid sexually transmitted infections. "If men are ever concerned they've been exposed to something, especially if they're having unprotected sex with multiple partners, they should consider coming in to get evaluated."

The vaccine for human papilloma virus, or HPV, decreases the risk of several types of cancers as well as genital warts, Hawks said. Standard practice recommends testing for males 26 and younger. Men ages 27 to 45 should speak with a physician to see if the vaccine is appropriate for them, Hawks added.

Erectile dysfunction can represent another sexual health issue. Hawks said about 50% of men 40 and older will experience ED at some point in their lives. "Younger men may experience it more than we know because they're embarrassed to come in and talk about it," Hawks said, adding that it may be a marker for heart disease. Regardless, "There are medical therapies that can be very helpful," he said. “So it's worthwhile to see a provider."

Hawks said men who plan for their appointment will likely feel more confident, not only about the meeting but also, their future. "Taking positive control of your heath is an important factor in longevity," Hawks said.

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Erectile Dysfunction among Male Active Component Service members

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5/25/2017
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the persistent inability to achieve and sustain an erection that is adequate for sexual intercourse. ED can result from a problem with any of the above: •	Hormones •	Emotions •	Nerves •	Muscles •	Blood vessels These factors are required for an erection include. Picture is a brain (left) and a male figure (right) showing the heart and main arteries of the body. The top three most common ED diagnoses are: 1.	Psychosexual dysfunction 2.	Hypoactive sexual desire disorder 3.	Male orgasmic disorder Image shows a couple outside together during sunset. House displays in background. Causes of ED (Shows cut out of male body highlighting areas of the body where causes happen) •	Unrealistic sexual expectations •	Depression/ Anxiety/ Stress or other mental health issues •	High blood pressure •	Diabetes •	Obesity •	Injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord •	Low testosterone •	Aging, Substance Abuse Demographics: •	Incidence rate of erectile dysfunction are higher among black, non-Hispanic servicemen when compared to other race/ethnicity groups. •	Black non-Hispanic service members have higher incidence rates of several conditions known to be risk factors for erectile dysfunction, including hypertension, obesity and diabetes. •	Separated, divorced and widowed servicemen had a higher incidence rate of ED than servicemen never married. •	Servicemen never deployed had the highest crude incidence rate of erectile dysfunction. Get the facts •	Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual complaint reported by men to healthcare providers •	Among male service members nearly half of erectile dysfunction cases related predominantly or exclusively to psychological factors. •	Incidence rates of psychogenic erectile dysfunction are greater than organic erectile dysfunction for service members. •	Organic erectile dysfunction can result from physical factors such as obesity, smoking, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or medication use. •	Highest incidence rates were observed in those aged 60 years or older. •	Those 40 years or older are most commonly diagnosed with erectile dysfunction. Effective against erectile dysfunction •	Regular exercise  ( Shows soldier running) •	Psychological counseling (Shows two soldiers engaging in mental health counseling. They are seating on a couch).  •	Quit smoking ( shows lit cigarette)  •	Stop substance abuse ( Shows to shot glasses filled with alcohol) •	Nutritional supplements ( Shows open pill bottle of supplements) •	Surgical treatment ( Shows surgical instruments) Talk to your partner Although Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a difficult issue for sex partners to discuss, talking openly can often be the best way to resolve stress and discover underlying causes. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, explore treatment options with your doctor. Learn more about ED by reading ‘Erectile Dysfunction Among Male Active Component Service Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004 – 2013.’ Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) Vol. 21 No. 9 – September 2014 at www.Health.mil/MSMRArchives. Follow us on Twitter at AFHSBPAGE. #MensHealth

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the persistent inability to achieve and sustain an erection that is adequate for sexual intercourse. This infographic provides details on the ways ED impacts male active component services members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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Routine Screening for HIV Antibodies Among Male Civilian Applicants

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3/24/2017
This graphic shows the results of routine screening for antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) among both male civilian applicants for U.S. military service and male service members of the U.S. Armed Forces, active component - Army during  January 2015 through June 2016 surveillance period. 368,369 males out of 463,132 civilian applicants for U.S. military service were tested for antibodies to HIV. Out of 124 civilian applicants that were HIV positive, 114 were male. Throughout the period, seroprevalences were much higher among males than females.  As for U.S. Armed Forces active component, 467,011 male service members out of 548,974 were tested for antibodies to HIV. Out of 120 soldiers that were HIV positive 117 were male. Annual seroprevalences for male active component Army members greatly exceed those of females. During the 2015, on average, one new HIV infection was detected among active duty army soldiers per 5,265 screening tests.  HIV-1 is the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and has had major impacts on the health of populations and on healthcare systems worldwide. Of 515 active component soldiers diagnosed with HIV infections since 2011, a total of 291 (57%) were still in the military. Get tested and learn more by reading the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report at Health.Mil/MSMR.

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5 Major Categories of Abdominal Hernia

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Heart Disease and Its Effects on Service Members

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The HPV Vaccine Saves Lives

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5/16/2016
The Defense Department recommends male and female military service members, ages 17-26 years, receive an HPV vaccine series to generate a robust immune response to the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4). This graphic highlights information the benefits of the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective among fully vaccinated individuals.   Cancer Prevention Facts •	HPV is the most common sexually  transmitted infection (STI) •	There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas •	Some HPV types give warts •	Some HPV types develop cancer  Effective Against STI Transmission •	The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from the virus •	The HPV vaccine provides nearly 100% protection from HPV types 6,11,16 and 18 •	HPV vaccine shows early signs of success in reducing HPV infections and related illnesses •	Protection is expected to be long-lasting  Safety Tips •	Getting your HPV vaccine and practicing safe sex such as wearing a condom may lower the risk of HPV •	Limiting the number of lifetime sex partners can also lower the risk of HPV •	When given the HPV vaccine, the body makes antibodies in response to the protection to clear it from the body  Get the Facts •	2,091 female service members aged 17-26 years received 1-3 HPV4 doses during 2006-2012, stratified by number of doses (1, 2, or 3).  Get the HPV Vaccine •	Only 22.5% of eligible service members initiated the series •	Of those, only 39.1% completed the full three-dose series as of June 2011.  Even though the 3 dose regiment provides nearly complete protection against HPV16 and HPV18, in the U.S., only 12% and 19% of female adolescents among commercial and Medicaid plans respectively complete the series.  Read HPV Facts from the CDC: https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/IMM_Teens_HPV_Facts.pdf  Read the STI issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report at Health.Mil/MSMR   Get the conversation started. Ask your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine today. Follow us on Twitter @AFHSBPAGE and use hashtag #VaccinesWork.

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