May 2011

Men's Sexual Health asks: Have you got your eyes on the ball?

June is Everyman Male Cancer Awareness month. This annual event is used to heighten the knowledge and understanding of Testicular Cancer and Prostate Cancer, the most common cancers in the male demographic.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in the 15 – 44 age group. A 2006 survey conducted by Everyman, a campaign directed at men by the Institute of Cancer Research, revealed that only 28% of men check their testicles regularly for signs of testicular cancer. Though it is still quite rare, early detection is the key to saving lives. There are 2,000 cases a year in the UK. With treatment Testicular cancer is 97 – 99% curable, if caught in the early stages. However, it still causes approximately 70 deaths per year.

Prostate cancer has overtaken lung cancer to be the most common cancer in men. Every year in the UK, 36,000 men are diagnosed with it, resulting in 10,000 deaths. That's one man every hour. The majority of men with prostate cancer are aged over 60 years. Although this cancer can also occur in younger individuals, it is very rare under the age of 50.

The three biggest issues around these male cancers are:

  • men's lack of knowledge on the subject,
  • men don't like to admit when there is something wrong with them and
  • men don't like to discuss their intimate anatomy with others.

It is these reasons why Men's Sexual Health has dedicated this campaign to such an important cause. We need to inform men of the risks, how to check themselves and to be comfortable to talk to their GP.

We have once again teamed up with the Trowbridge Tigers to raise awareness to these cancers. When they heard about what we were doing they understood how important this cause was especially as some of the players had been directly affected by the issue.

Duncan Boydell who plays centre half for the team discussed with us his experience:
"My Dad was 63 when he found out he had prostate cancer. He had known for a while something was wrong with him but didn't want to go to the doctors to talk about it. By the time he did it was too late. He was told he had 6 months left to live. We were fortunate, that with radiotherapy we got to spend a year with him before he passed. He died a just one year and a day today (the day of our photo shoot with the Trowbridge Tigers). This campaign is so important. Men of all ages need to stop burying their heads in the sand, and to regularly check themselves and go to their GP if unsure."

The poster will be sent to leisure centres, gyms, sports clubs, libraries, working men's club and colleges. In addition, the Men's Sexual Health team will be touring around the county with display stands at some of these locations, interacting with the public, giving out leaflets, explaining how to self check with interactive models and answering any questions.

Testicular Cancer

The early signs of testicular cancer are usually obvious and easy to spot, regularly checking and self examination will help identify the normal feel and size of the testicles, making it easier to identify signs that don't seem or feel right.

Look out for one or more of the following:

  • A hard lump on the front or side of the testicle
  • Swelling or enlargement of a testicle
  • An increase in firmness of a testicle
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • An unusual difference between one testicle and the other
  • A heavy feeling in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the lower stomach, groin or scrotum
  • Passing blood in urine – occasionally accompanied by backache

These symptoms do not necessarily indicate testicular cancer – they may be caused by a curable infection. If you identify anything that is different or changed, or if you suffer any of these symptoms consult your local GUM clinic or GP – remember, while most lumps are not cancerous, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier treatment can commence.

How to self-examine: Everyone is different, so if you're going to pick up any changes, you need to know what's normal for you. It is advised from the time of puberty onwards you should do a regular self-check (at least once a month), the best time to do this is in the shower or bath, or soon afterwards when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed.

  • Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand and feel the size and weight of the testicles, it is common to have one testicle slightly larger than the other one, or one that hangs lower.
  • Feel each testicle and roll it between your thumb and finger, it should feel smooth. You'll feel a soft, tender tube towards the back of the testicle, this is normal and is called the Epididymis.
  • Look and feel for any lumps, bumps or swelling. In a routine of checking you will be able to identify what is normal for you.
  • It is unusual to develop cancer in both testicles at the same time, so if you are wondering whether a testicle is feeling normal or not you can compare it with the other.

If you notice anything unusual about your testicles you should go and see a doctor as soon as possible. Act now, don't wait a week or two. Any changes may have other causes, but you should always be checked out.

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small gland about the size and shape of a walnut. It lies below the bladder and surrounds the upper part of the urethra – the tube that carries urine and semen out through the penis. The prostate gland produces a thick clear fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen.

As a man gets older, his prostate may get bigger and restrict the flow of urine. This very common condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer but causes some of the same symptoms as prostate cancer.

The following symptoms may be caused by problems that are much less serious than prostate cancer, try not to worry if you develop any of them, but do get them checked out.

  • Difficulty or pain in passing urine
  • Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine
  • Frequent visits to the toilet, especially at night
  • Starting and stopping while urinating
  • Dribbling urine
  • A feeling of not having emptied the bladder fully
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Impotence
  • Pain in back, hips or pelvis

Unlike testicular cancer where you can do a self examination, we would advice you that if you have any concerns to visit your GP where he will discuss your symptoms and will then decided if you need to be tested.

Everyman logoFor further information on testicular and prostate cancer visit the Everyman Male Cancer website.

If you would like a copy of our campaign poster please email us at

Could you volunteer for Men's Sexual Health?

Next week from 1st June – 7th is national volunteers week so what a perfect opportunity to offer your support to our organisation.

There are many reasons why volunteering is such a good thing to do:

  • Learn or develop a new skill
  • Be part of your community
  • Motivation and sense of achievement
  • Boost career options
  • Discover new interests and hobbies
  • New experiences
  • Meet a diverse range of new people, form new friendships
  • Inspire others

Men's Sexual Health are involved in a variety of different areas of work, and should be able to find something to suite any kind of volunteer, whether it's engaging with the public at an event, or something more introverted in your own space, we hope to match what you are looking to do, the following is an example of some of the tasks that we need volunteers for:

  • Condom Packing
  • Fresher Fairs
  • Swindon & Wiltshire Pride
  • Health Fairs
  • Writing articles for the website
  • General Admin work
  • Outreach at Gay Venues
  • GUM Buddy Scheme

Anyone can offer to volunteer, but it would be beneficial considering the line of work we do to be open minded, possibly understand some of the issues the LGBT community face, and some knowledge of sexual and general health would be helpful but not essential. Please note, due to the change in funding, the majority of public events will take place in Swindon, this does not mean you have to live in Swindon, but just to be made aware.

If you would like to volunteer, please download a form and post it back to us where we will be in touch to offer you an interview.

For more information on national volunteers' week visit the website.

May 17th: World IDAHO Day

Once again, May 17th marks world IDAHO day. IDAHO day is an internationally recognised day for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, and heterosexual people supporting them, to come together to campaign for equal rights, equal treatment and reduce hate crime.

Only 11 countries recognise same sex marriages. 76 countries prosecuted people on the grounds of the sexual orientation. LGBT people are up to 5 times more likely to attempt suicide. The aim of IDAHO day is to prevent this, and promote the social acceptance of being LGBT.

May 17th was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders, a turning point for the social acceptance of LGBT people. Last year in the UK, there were 100 events around the country, ranging from a stand in a town centre handing out leaflets and advice, to film events in London during which 200 people attended a screening of a new film, "suddenly last winter". This year, we aim to beat this figure, and get even more people to attend the events that are happening. To find out what's on near you, click on the link below.

You can go to the IDAHO day website to find out more information, and find out how to get involved.

Remember that we offer help and advice to anyone who is LGBT, and offer a support group for people in Wiltshire, called 2BME. Visit the 2BME website for more information.