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Reasons to see your GP - Men's Health

Men can often feel pressured by society to ‘man up’, and get on with it. Some issues can therefore then feel too personal to discuss, or too embarrassing to book an appointment for. 

In the UK, increases in life expectancy have slowed down since 2011. Many factors can affect this, including genetics, environment and lifestyle. Ethnicity groups such as South-East Asian and black men are also at a higher risk of certain conditions. Learn the key facts, symptoms, and advice on how to protect your health.

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Heart Health         Cancer        Mental Health        Diabetes

Check up on your health

It’s a good idea to start with the basics when it comes to our physical health. There are 5 measurable factors to look at, which can indicate potential health risks:

  • Blood pressure– should be below 140/90mm.

  • BMI – should ideally be between 20-25, although those with a higher muscle mass may have a higher BMI.

  • Waist measurements – ideally should be below 35 inches, more fat around the abdomen indicates the amount of fat covering our organs.

  • Cholesterol – total cholesterol should be 5 or below, bad cholesterol less than 3.

  • Blood sugar – our fasting blood sugar levels should be between 4 – 5.4 mmol/l.

BMI and waist measurements can be easily calculated by yourself at home with a set of scales and a tape measure. You can get blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar readings by visiting your local pharmacy, or at your GP surgery. If your readings are out of range – speak to your GP for further advice.

Men’s Heart Health 

A leading cause of death for men is heart disease. Heart disease can be ‘silent’ – as many as half of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease will have no previous symptoms.

Am I at risk of heart disease?

  • Obesity – obesity levels are increasing in the UK, which has a direct impact on an increase in Cardiovascular related deaths.

  • High blood pressure – blood pressure readings indicate heart function, and how well blood is circulating through the vessels, and a high reading can be a cause for concern because it means you are at risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and vascular dementia.

  • High cholesterol – cholesterol is generated in the liver and can get ‘stuck’ in our arteries, LDL (bad cholesterol) is directly impacted by our diet and lifestyle choices.

  • Alcohol – limit to under 14 units per week, with alcohol free days.

  • Smoking – smoking causes an immediate rise in blood pressure, reducing blood flow to the heart.

  • Ethnicity – South-East Asian men are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

What are the symptoms of heart disease? 

  • Difficulty catching your breath after physical exercise.

  • Irregularities in your heartbeat.

  • Pain in the upper torso, neck and jaw.

  • Dizziness and fainting.

If you experience any of the above or have any concerns, reach out to your GP for support and advice. 

How to prevent heart attack/heart disease;

By making a few small changes, you’re much more likely to avoid heart disease issues further down the line

  • Eat less fatty, sugary, salty and processed foods (which will reduce your cholesterol intake).

  • Eat more colourful foods, including fruits and vegetables, as well as wholegrains.

  • Get more exercise – try to exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

  • Stop smoking, and reduce alcohol intake to less than 14 units a week.

  • Keep your weight within a healthy limit.

  • Regularly measure your blood pressure.

  • Prevent or manage diabetes.

Common cancers in men

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 15–45, with the highest rates in men aged 30–34. Meanwhile, in the UK, roughly one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and most men diagnosed are between 65-69 years old.

Am I at risk of cancer?

  •  Age – prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50.

  •  Family history – particularly with prostate cancer.

  •  Ethnicity – black men are at higher risk of prostate cancer.

  • Obesity.

What are the symptoms of testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is 98% curable if detected early and prostate cancer survival in the UK has tripled in the last 40 years. A quick and easy way to check for symptoms is to run a hot bath, or shower, to help your balls relax, and roll each testicle between your thumb and fingers to check for the below: 

  • Unusual lumps.

  • Changes in size, texture.

  • Unusual redness or heat.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

  • A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation.

  • Frequent urination, particularly at night.

  • Difficulty stopping or starting urination.

  • Sudden erectile dysfunction.

  • Blood in urine or semen.

If you experience any of the above or have any concerns, reach out to a GP for advice and support.

How to prevent cancer

  • Diet (do you have a healthy, balanced diet?).

  • Exercise (are you inactive, or are you moving 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week?).

  • Habits (do you smoke, are you limiting your alcohol consumption to 14 units per week?).

Men’s Mental Health 

In the UK, around one in eight men have a mental health problem. Men are also more likely to use coping methods like drugs, alcohol, or gambling, and are less likely to talk to family or friends about their mental health.

Am I at risk of mental illness?

  • Three times as many men as women die by suicide.

  • Men aged 40–49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.

  • Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women.

  • Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women.

  • Nearly three-quarters of adults who go missing are men.

  • 87% of rough sleepers are men.

What are the symptoms of mental health issues?

We all experience good and bad days. But if you find yourself experiencing the below symptoms more often, it’s a good idea to reach out to your GP for support, as you should with any other concerning physical symptom.

  • Feeling disinterested.

  • Having angry outbursts.

  • Sleeping a lot/ too little.

  • Anxiety and high stress levels.

  • Sadness.

If you experience any of the above or have any concerns, reach out to a GP for advice and support.

How to prevent and manage poor mental health:

  • Keep a healthy diet.

  • Take regular exercise.

  • Get a good night’s sleep – between 7-8 hours a night.

  • Limit your alcohol intake.

  • Take regular screen or desk breaks when needed.

  • Open up – don’t be afraid to open up to your colleagues, loved ones, friends and family. It’s likely that they may be facing struggles of their own, and having this conversation may help you both. You can also reach out to your GP, and other helpful organisations such as Mind, Samaritans, the NHS and our mental health hub.

You can contact Samaritans for free, whenever you need emotional support on 116 123. 


Men are at a higher risk of developing Diabetes than women due to genetic factors (with South-East Asian and black men at a higher risk), and lifestyle habits such as poor diet and inactivity.

What is diabetes?

When we consume too much sugar, over a long period of time, we become at risk of type 2 diabetes. Insulin helps our body to process sugar. Diabetes causes an inability to produce insulin, or a resistance to insulin. This strain on the body can cause a number of symptoms.

Type 1 diabetes – people are born with type 1 diabetes, which means their pancreas doesn’t function properly

Type 2 diabetes – people develop type 2 diabetes due to poor lifestyle factors

Am I at risk of diabetes?

  • Ethnicity – southeast Asian males are 6 x more likely to develop diabetes, and African-Caribbean males are 3 x more likely to develop it.

  • Obesity (poor diet directly causes diabetes).

  • Alcohol (drinking more than 14 units a week can damage your health).

  • Smoking.

  • Inactivity.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

  • Feeling tired all the time.

  • Needing to urinate more often.

  • Sudden weight loss.

  • Slow healing wounds.

  • Sexual problems – such as erectile dysfunction.

  • Constant hunger.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Numb/tingly fingers, feet and hands.

  • Thirst.

If you experience any of the above or have any concerns, reach out to a GP for advice and support.

How to prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Keep moving – this helps to manage your weight.

  • Review your diet – consume minimal sugar in your daily diet.

  • Stop smoking – seek help from your GP to support with this – check out NHS advice on how to quit smoking.


Benenden Health provides affordable private healthcare for everyone, including businesses, giving members access to services such as our 24/7 GP Helpline and Mental Health Helpline straight away. If you’ve been a member for six months, you can request access to diagnostic consultations and tests, and physiotherapy.

Medically reviewed in May 2023.