The Silent Epidemic: Men’s Health

The State of Men's Health

Men’s health is a growing concern worldwide, with alarming statistics and various studies highlighting the need for more attention and awareness.

In previous years, it was recorded that in Australia:

    • Only 5 in 10 men were reported sufficiently physically active
    • Fewer than 1 in 30 men (and 1 in 15 women) ate enough fruit and vegetables
    • Men were 1.5 times as likely to smoke daily as women
    • 7 in 10 men (and 6 in 10 women) were overweight or obese
    • 1 in 4 men (and 1 in 11 women) were consuming alcohol at levels placing them at risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury
    • Males remain more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than women¹

It’s no secret that women live longer than men.² No existing explanations fully determine why this is the case; however, various factors and sociocultural trends suggest possible reasonings.

One influencing factor is the fact that men are significantly less likely to seek medical help than women. It’s seen across various studies that men consistently have lower levels of primary healthcare use than women, even when excluding consultations for childbearing and birth control.³

Primary healthcare checkups are among the main means of prevention. Timely diagnosis is also crucial as it can contribute to effective treatment and the prolonging of life.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2022, potentially avoidable deaths accounted for almost half of all deaths that year of people (under 75). Of these deaths, 63% were male.

All these statistics paint a grim picture of men’s health, emphasising the urgent need for men to prioritise their well-being and take proactive steps towards better health. Unsurprisingly, for Men’s Health Week 2024, a special focus was placed on saving men from preventable causes of death, highlighting the importance of regular health checks.

So, why is it that so many men stay silent and avoid seeking medical help when it could potentially save their life?

Why Some Men Struggle to Seek Medical Attention

Seeking medical help is a complex process, shaped by demographic, structural, and individual factors such as age, sex, access to healthcare, socioeconomic inequalities, cultural norms, and education. There are various ideas of why some men remain “silent” when it comes to their health and are reluctant to seek help. Let’s examine a few.

4 Reasons Men Avoid Seeking Medical Attention.

    1. One common factor to consider is societal expectations and traditional gender roles. Men are often taught to be strong, independent, and self-reliant, which can discourage them from acknowledging their health concerns and seeking help. This includes men’s sense of stoicism, self-reliance and the perception that healthcare environments are ‘feminine’.⁴
    1. Additionally, stigma surrounding certain health conditions may also prevent men from seeking medical attention. Conditions such as erectile dysfunction, mental health issues, and reproductive health problems are often stigmatised as embarrassing or emasculating, leading men to suffer in silence instead of reaching out for help.
    1. Fear of the implications of a diagnosis when experiencing signs of a severe disease such as lung cancer, may also be a reason for not seeking medical advice.⁵
    1. Lack of awareness and knowledge about available healthcare services and resources may also contribute to some men’s reluctance to seek medical attention. It is important to address these barriers and create a supportive environment where men feel comfortable discussing their health concerns and seeking appropriate care.

Common Medical Conditions That Get Ignored or Missed by Men

Prostate Cancer

In 2023, prostate cancer was estimated to be one of the most commonly diagnosed cancer for males and for Australia overall.⁶

Regular screenings and early detection can significantly improve survival rates, but many men neglect these important check-ups.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

    • feeling an urgent need to urinate
    • difficulty starting to urinate
    • a slow or intermittent stream of urine
    • leaking or dribbling after urination
    • blood in the urine
    • pain when urinating
    • pain in the lower back or pelvis.

Take Action: It is important to note that early prostate cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms and it has been generally recommended to start seeking regular screening between the ages of 40 – 60 years of age.

Although the feared digital rectal examination (DRE) is a common prostate cancer test, men can now have a quick and simple blood test, known as the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.


Suicide is another common cause of death among men. In 2022, the number of male suicide deaths in Australia was equivalent to seven men a day and made up more than 75% of all suicide deaths in the country.⁷ The tragedy is, that due to stigma and other sociocultural hindrances, men are less likely to seek help or talk about their mental health struggles, even with friends. This has led to higher rates of undiagnosed and untreated depression.

Socio-demographics such as men who are lonely, unemployed, divorced, separated, or who are not in de facto relationships are at greater risk of developing depression.⁸ Other studies show that masculine expectations, norms, and self-reliance also place men at higher risk of suicidal ideation.⁹

Symptoms of depression may include:

    • Persistent sad or “empty” mood
    • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or pessimism
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
    • Fatigue, lack of energy, or feeling slowed down
    • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
    • Issues sleeping
    • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
    • Thoughts of death

Take Action: Not only should men be encouraged to break their silence and to seek help, but they also need to be welcomed into a warm and inviting environment in order to feel more comfortable to open up. Men without depression should also have a focus on encouraging their mates to open-up and to help them with their mental health struggles. Simply, ask, listen, encourage action, provide support and check in.

Penile Abnormalities

Feelings of embarrassment, anxiety, discomfort, and shame may also prevent men from seeking medical attention for various genital and sexual health problems. Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a common example of this.

Causes of erectile dysfunction may include stress, poor diet, a lack of exercise, or an underlying medical condition such as Peyronie’s disease. Peyronie’s disease is the result of fibrous scar tissue that develops within the erectile chambers of the penis, causing curving and pain during an erection.

Symptoms of Peyronie’s disease may include:

    • Scar tissue under the skin of the penis as flat lumps or a band of hard tissue. The area over the scar tissue may feel tender
    • The penis might curve upward or downward or bend to one side
    • Problems obtaining or maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
    • The penis might become shorter during erections
    • Pain in the penis
    • Other changes in how the penis looks and is shaped, especially when erect

Take Action: It’s always recommended to immediately seek help from a medical professional if you are experiencing any penile dysfunction or abnormalities.

Erectile dysfunction may be able to be addressed through sexual and mental health therapy or lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, avoiding smoking and alcohol, improving diet, and working on stress management. For men who feel burdened by embarrassment, various at-home treatment options are easily accessible such as a vacuum erection device, like the SomaTherapy Erectile Dysfunction Systems which are designed to help obtain and maintain an erection.

Similarly, an easily accessible, at-home treatment option for Peyronie’s disease is a penile traction device (PTD), such as PathRight Medical’s RestoreX

This Penile traction device is a non-invasive medical device that uses a gentle, constant stretch to straighten the penis and reduce the curvature caused by Peyronie’s Disease. By using the device consistently over several months, the tissue may gradually stretch and increase in length.


How does RestoreX work?

Promotes Blood Flow

The gentle stretch created by PTDs helps to promote blood flow to the penis, which can improve erectile function and reduce the symptoms of Peyronie’s Disease.

Penile Straightening

By stretching the penis, PTDs help to reduce curvature and straighten the penis. Over time, this can help to reduce pain and improve sexual function and confidence.

Penile Lengthening

PTDs promote the production of new tissue and the breakdown of scar tissue causing Peyronie’s Disease. This can help to reduce curvature, increase length, and improve erectile function.

To learn more about vacuum erection devices and penile traction devices, click here!

Other commonly ignored or missed conditions and causes of death in men include coronary heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes, and obesity. These conditions can have serious consequences if left untreated, highlighting the importance of regular check-ups and proactive lifestyle choices such as increasing exercise, improving diet, reducing alcohol intake, and avoiding smoking.

Taking Action to Better Men's Health

Improving men’s health requires collective action and a multi-faceted approach. Here are some ways we can work towards better men’s health:

    • Promoting awareness and education about men’s health issues, risk factors, and available healthcare resources.
    • Encouraging regular check-ups
    • Rejecting and breaking down the stigma associated with men’s health concerns
    • Promoting and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise, balanced diet, and stress management

By taking action at individual, community, and societal levels, we can strive towards better men’s health and ultimately improve the well-being of men worldwide.


[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. “Cancer Data in Australia, Overview of Cancer in Australia, 2023.” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 31 Aug. 2023,

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2022). Life tables, 2019 – 2021 | Australian Bureau of Statistics. [online] Available at:

[3] Wang, Y., Hunt, K., Nazareth, I., Freemantle, N. and Petersen, I. (2013). Do men consult less than women? An analysis of routinely collected UK general practice data. BMJ Open, [online] 3(8), p.e003320. doi:

[4] Höhn, A., Gampe, J., Lindahl-Jacobsen, R., Christensen, K. and Oksuyzan, A. (2020). Do men avoid seeking medical advice? A register-based analysis of gender-specific changes in primary healthcare use after first hospitalisation at ages 60+ in Denmark. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, p.jech-2019-213435. doi:

[5] Hamann, H.A., Ostroff, J.S., Marks, E.G., Gerber, D.E., Schiller, J.H. and Lee, S.J.C. (2013). Stigma among patients with lung cancer: a patient-reported measurement model. Psycho-Oncology, [online] 23(1), pp.81–92. doi:

[6] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. “Cancer Data in Australia, Overview of Cancer in Australia, 2023.” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 31 Aug. 2023,

[7] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. “Suicide and Intentional Self-Harm.” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022,

[8] The Australian Institute of Family Studies. “Ten to Men Insights Report: Chapter 1 Mental Health of Australian Males: Depression, Suicidality and Loneliness.”, Sept. 2020,

[9] Pirkis, Jane, et al. “Masculinity and Suicidal Thinking.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 52, no. 3, 2017, pp. 319–327,,

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