Some of you may have heard of “Movember”, a portmanteau of “moustache” and “November”. It’s an awareness campaign run by the charity, the Movember Foundation, which originated in Australia, in 2004, whereby men are encouraged to grow moustaches during the month of November, and “act like a country gentleman”. Though funny and quirky, the aim is serious; to increase awareness of prostate cancer, and encourage men to get regular annual check-ups, as well as research their own family history of cancer, and be more proactive in following a healthy lifestyle. From its roots as the idea of a bunch of guys in Melbourne, and thanks to social media and the internet, Movember has evolved into a global campaign with millions of participants.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and does not discriminate with race or ethnicity. More than 200,000 men in the US alone, are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, and more than 10% of those, die from the disease. Because early detection is vital, events like Movember aim to raise awareness of prostate cancer, and encourage men to get checked out, sooner. Men are notoriously fickle about their health, and reluctant to see a doctor, even for stuff as simple as an ear infection, or ‘flu. And if their check-up means having their personal space invaded, then they’re doubly reluctant to get checked out. It’s this attitude that needs to change. Just as us girls need regular Pap smears to save our lives, so men need regular prostate check-ups, which might save theirs.
Symptoms of early prostate cancer include: difficulty urinating, weak urine flow, blood in the urine, pain during urination, and painful ejaculation. Of course, these symptoms are not exclusive to prostate cancer, and there are several, benign explanations for all them, but the point is, men need to get to know their prostates more, because if they’re familiar with their bodies as much as girls are with theirs, they will be more likely to spot when something isn’t right. Don’t rely on chance, and don’t rely on good fate. You are responsible for your own bodies, and your own health, so give fate a helping hand, and learn to spot the signs of prostate cancer.
Guys, checking yourself is easy, you just don’t know it. It might feel unusual, having to feel ‘inside there’, but once you’ve practiced, it should become second nature. Here’s how to do it.
1. Wash your hands thoroughly, and rub them together to warm them up. Make sure your fingernails are cut and filed, as it makes it so much easier, trust me!
2. Put on some gloves – you can buy latex or latex-free gloves from most drug stores.
3. Lubricate your finger – use Vaseline or a water-based lube.
4. Putting a foot up on the toilet seat, reach underneath yourself and gently stroke your taint, to relax your muscles, before gently inserting your finger inside your rectum – the prostate is located just inside, so just move your finger up slowly until you hit it. You can’t miss it, and you’ll know when you find it, as it’s one of a guy’s most erogenous, sensitive organs.
5. Check your prostate’s firmness. If the prostate feels soft and spongy, that’s a healthy sign. If it feels a bit hard, with little or no ‘sponginess’, then you might need to get checked out by a doctor, for further testing.
Use this exercise to help you get to know your own body. Explore further with your fingers, and just get more used to how the sensation feels. This will not only educate you about your prostate, anus and rectum, but you’ll be more aware when something doesn’t feel quite the way it should.