Welcome to the month of Movember, rapidly becoming a fixture in lots of males’ diaries – such a simple and effective way of raising money for a very good cause, with a huge amusement factor thrown in for good measure.
Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st clean shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month. The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.
The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The plan was simple – to bring the moustache back as a bit of a joke and do something for men’s health. No money was raised in 2003, but the guys behind the Mo realized the potential a moustache had in generating conversations about men’s health. Inspired by the women around them and all they had done for breast cancer, the Mo Bros set themselves on a course to create a global men’s health movement.
If you are a parent of younger children, I thought I’d share with you a letter written to parents by the headmaster of a boys school:-
This week we have had an assembly on men’s health, inspired by Movember, where we try to raise awareness of male cancers, particularly prostate cancer. Your sons are, thank goodness, long removed from this condition but it would be timely to look at other ‘male-only’ conditions. After all, the goal of Movember is to ‘change the face of men’s health.’ Discussing, let alone examining, one’s ‘lower regions’ can be embarrassing for anyone, of any age, but there are some important points to make.
Boys from puberty onwards should examine their testicles regularly – ideally this should be done once a month. It is best to do this after a hot shower or bath, when the skin of the scrotum is looser. And probably best whilst standing. Start with each testicle separately, feeling generally for lumps, and then compare with the other side to see whether one is larger than the other. By doing this each month, your sons will become familiar with what is normal for them. If any lump is felt, or there is tenderness, or a difference in size is noticed, then it is best to see a doctor.
Anybody over the age of six years with a foreskin should, and indeed must, be able to retract this easily for hygiene. A cheesy, white deposit (known as smegma) will accumulate under the foreskin and can lead to health problems. The foreskin – for those who possess one – should be gently pulled back and the head of the penis washed with warm water. The foreskin should then be returned to its normal position. If the foreskin is tight then a doctor can advise. In boys who have not yet gone through puberty there is a special cream that can be prescribed – in most cases this will avoid the need for a circumcision.
Swellings in the groin but outside the scrotum might be a hernia or perhaps a lymph node. These should always be checked by a doctor. A rash in the creases of the groin which has an irregular edge often suggests a common fungal infection. Fungi love damp, moist areas so this is common in boys who play a lot of sports and in hot weather too, due to increased sweating. It can be easily treated.
As with all concerns and worries, these are best aired than fretted over. Dads might wish to talk through the above with their sons. All boys should have a medical examination when they join a school, but obviously that is not always the case. Therefore, the more we talk about it, the more relaxed your sons will be. And fathers – like their sons – should be vigilant and ‘aware’ at all times!
For further information about the Movember Foundation check out the website http://uk.movember.com