Men's health

Expert reviewer Dr Adrian Raby, General Practitioner
Next review due April 2021

Calling all men – it’s time to start thinking about your health. Many men shy away from talking about, or getting help for, a health problem or condition. But it’s time for change. Here we talk about:

  • mental health
  • heart health
  • problems affecting your prostate, testicles and penis

Three men stood in a circle, sharing a joke

Mental health

When it comes to mental health, speaking up is important. Nearly half of all adults feel as though they’ve experienced a mental health problem at some point in their life. But talking about how we feel or asking for help isn’t always easy – especially for men. Fewer men receive treatment for mental health conditions than women. But getting the right support and treatment is really important – it can help you to cope and build resilience.

Find out more about certain mental health conditions and their treatments, including self-help measures, below.

Feeling under pressure at home or at work can also lead to poorer mental health. We have information on coping with stress day to day and stress in the working environment.

For more information on what to do if you feel depressed, see our FAQs below.

Heart health

Diseases of the heart and circulation (cardiovascular disease, CVD) pose a significant threat to our health. For men, a particular type of CVD called coronary heart disease is the main cause of death in the UK. It’s caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the vessels (arteries) that supply blood to your heart.

Coronary heart disease can cause pain and discomfort in your chest known as angina and can sometimes cause a heart attack. Nearly 1.4 million men have coronary heart disease in the UK, but there are things you can do to help, such as:

  • stopping smoking (if you do smoke)
  • eating a healthy diet for your heart
  • keeping active

Learn more about the benefits of exercise on your heart.

It’s also important to recognise the signs of coronary heart disease, so you can seek help and make changes to your diet and lifestyle if needed.

You may need to take medicines to prevent or treat problems with your heart and circulation. These may include, but are not limited to the following. Blood pressure medicines, such as:

Medicines to help thin your blood and reduce the risk of blood clots forming, such as:

  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel

Anti-angina medicines, to help prevent the symptoms of angina, such as:

Medicines to help lower your cholesterol, such as statins.

If you’re prescribed medicines, make sure you read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine(s). If you have any concerns or questions, speak to your doctor.

Chest pain and getting help

If you have chest pain, it’s not always easy to know what to do or who to contact. As a guide, if you have any pain when at rest in the centre of your chest, or tightness that is severe or lasting more than 15 minutes call 999 immediately – you could be having a heart attack. This is particularly important if you also feel sick, are sweating, feel out of breath or the pain is spreading to your arms or jaw.

See our infographic on how to spot a heart attack (PDF, 0.7MB) or click on the icon below.

Infographic showing how to spot a heart attack

It’s also important to call for emergency help if you have chest pain and are at risk of getting conditions that affect your heart and circulation. Risk factors may include:

  • age – your risk increases as you get older
  • gender – men are at greater risk of developing problems at an earlier age than women
  • having a family history of problems with the heart and circulation
  • smoking
  • being overweight
  • not doing enough exercise
  • eating and drinking unhealthily – this includes drinking too much alcohol

Sometimes people have chest pain that comes on when they exert themselves physically, but eases when they slow down or stop. If this happens, you should contact your GP urgently as you could have angina.

Angina can increase your risk of other heart and circulation problems, including a heart attack. But there are ways to manage it, which is why it’s important that you see your GP. If your angina is being managed, but it rapidly gets worse, for example you start to get chest pain when you’re resting or when you exert only a small amount of effort, it’s important that you call 999 to get help immediately.

Holding hands icon Men’s Health Check

We offer a male health check service to detect the signs of prostate and testicular cancer, and to support you with any follow up healthcare needed. Book online >

Holding hands iconMen’s Health Check

Your prostate

Only men have a prostate gland. It’s about the size of a chestnut and located just below your bladder. It produces a fluid that is mixed with sperm during ejaculation.

Sometimes men have prostate problems – especially when they get older. These may include:

  • an enlarged prostate – known as benign (non-cancerous) prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic enlargement
  • infection – known as prostatitis
  • prostate cancer

If you have a problem with your prostate, the symptoms may vary, but it’s likely that you’ll notice changes with how you pass urine. This is because your prostate surrounds your urethra (the tube that allows urine to pass out of your body). Symptoms may include:

  • needing to wee more often or with more urgency than usual
  • having the urge to wee during the night
  • trouble passing urine – you might notice a delay before the urine begins to pass or that you’re straining
  • a weak flow of urine
  • dribbles of urine after you wee
  • feeling like your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
  • pain when you wee

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak to or see your GP – no matter what your age. They’ll be able to give you advice or refer you for further tests and treatment if needed.

Your doctor may take a sample of your urine to send to the laboratory for testing. They may suggest other tests, such as a blood test or a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. Read more about PSA testing for prostate cancer.

Depending on the results, you may be referred for further tests – for example, your doctor may suggest having a prostate biopsy.

For more information on any of these tests, speak to your doctor.

If you have a problem with your prostate, there are things that you and your doctors can do to help manage your symptoms. This may include a combination of self-help measures, medicines, non-surgical treatments, such as radiotherapy, or sometimes surgery, if needed.

We have information on some of these treatments including:

If you need to have treatment, discuss your options – including the pros and cons for each – with your doctor.

Your testicles

All men should check their testicles regularly for anything that isn’t normal for them. The best time to do this is in the bath or shower, or just after. Stand in front of a mirror and check each testicle by rolling it between your thumb and fingers.

When you check your testicles, you may notice things that are completely normal – for example, it’s not uncommon for men to have one testicle that hangs lower than the other. You may also notice lumps, but it’s important not to panic – most lumps are not cancerous.

Find out more about how to check your testicles and be testicular aware.

If you do notice any changes in your testicles such as swelling, lumps, hardening or pain, see your GP.

These symptoms could be a sign of:

  • a cyst
  • infection
  • a build up of fluid – known as a hydrocele
  • varicocele – an abnormal swelling of the veins in your testicles
  • damage to the testicles
  • testicular cancer
  • torsion (a twisted testicle) – although this is mainly seen in teenage boys

Testicular cancer most commonly affects men between the ages of 30 to 34. Although it’s rare, there were nearly 2,300 men diagnosed in the UK in 2015. Checking your testicles and catching it early can make a big difference to how well treatments work – many, if caught early, can be cured. So, if you notice anything unusual, don’t delay getting it checked out.

Your penis

Looking after your penis is important, it contains your urethra – allowing you to wee, and is the route through which sperm is ejaculated from the body. Here we look at some problems that you could have with your penis.

Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)

If you can’t get or keep an erection long enough to have sex, you may have erectile dysfunction. It’s more common as you get older, but don’t worry – there are things you can do and treatments available to help.

Making changes to your lifestyle may help – many of these changes can help protect against cardiovascular disease too.

  • If you smoke, try to stop. Read more about the effects of smoking.
  • Decrease the amount of alcohol you drink. Try to stay within the recommended levels and remember to drink sensibly.
  • Don’t take illegal drugs.
  • If you’re overweight, try to lose any excess weight by taking regular exercise and eating a healthy balanced diet.

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by underlying problems or conditions, including:

  • cardiovascular disease caused by high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol
  • problems with your mental wellbeing, such as feeling stressed or having anxiety or depression
  • surgery affecting the blood vessels or nerves that supply your penis

Certain medicines, including some antidepressants and medicines for high blood pressure such as beta-blockers and diuretics can also cause erectile dysfunction.

Your doctor will try to identify and manage any underlying problems or conditions that could be causing erectile dysfunction. For example, if anxiety or stress is the cause, your doctor may recommend talking therapies, such as counselling.

As well as life style changes, your doctor may prescribe medicines, such as sildenafil (Viagra) that you take as a pill. If these medicines don’t work, there are others available, including ones that you inject into, or put inside the tip of, your penis. However, these medicines aren't suitable for everyone and can have side-effects.

If medicines aren’t suitable or don’t work there are other treatments available such as vacuum pumps, and surgery. Your GP will be able to discuss the most suitable treatment options for you.

For more information about buying medicines for erectile dysfunction online, see our FAQs below.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

STIs are transferred from person to person during sex. Two of the most common sexually transmitted infections are chlamydia and gonorrhoea. You can read about these and other STDs in more detail on our Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) page.

If you have a STI, your symptoms may vary – with some STIs, such as chlamydia, you might not get any symptoms. But if you do, they may include:

  • discharge – mucus or puss – from your penis
  • pain when you wee
  • rashes, lumps or bumps on your penis

It’s important to visit a sexual health clinic or your GP if you think you might have an STI. Getting treatment can help your symptoms and stop the infection spreading to other people. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it’s worth getting tested for STIs if you’ve recently had a change in sexual partner.

You can protect yourself from STIs by practising safe sex – this includes wearing a condom whenever you have sex.

Frequently asked questions

  • If you buy medicines over the internet, there’s a risk that they may come from unregulated or illegal websites. If they do, there will be no guarantee of their safety, quality or effectiveness. They may not contain the right ingredients and, in the worse case, can be harmful to you.

    You may be able to buy medicine for erectile dysfunction from an online pharmacy or in store. Erectile dysfunction can have a number of causes, so it’s best to discuss it with a healthcare professional who’s aware of your medical history. They’ll be able to advise which treatment options are most suitable for you.

    Pharmacies in the UK, including those that provide internet services, should be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Registered pharmacies providing internet services can voluntarily display a logo on their website to show that they are approved and follow the standards set out by the GPhC.

    If a company is selling medicines over the internet, they must also be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). As part of their registration they are required to display a logo on each page of their site where they are selling medicines – this isn’t voluntary. If you click on the logo, it should take you to a list of approved sellers where you’ll be able to check the provider you’re intending to buy from.

    It’s important to remember that if you buy medicines online, you won’t have the benefit of a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare professional. You may also risk buying medicines that aren’t suitable for you. Remember that information you discuss with your healthcare professional will be kept confidential.

  • Depression is when you have a continuous low mood and/or a loss of interest in everyday life. Find out more about the symptoms of depression.

    There are some symptoms that are more common in men. For example, men are more likely to become irritable, experience outbursts of anger or aggressiveness. They tend to start taking more risks and ‘self-medicate’ by misusing drugs or alcohol. Men are also more likely to commit suicide.

    If you think you might be depressed, try to tell someone about your feelings and make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP can give you advice and help you to get the support and treatment you need.

    You can also help yourself by:

    • exercising and keeping active
    • eating and drinking well – this includes cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink
    • making sure you get enough good quality sleep
  • A vasectomy is a form of permanent contraception for men. During a vasectomy procedure, your surgeon blocks the tube that carries sperm from your testes to your penis for ejaculation.

    If you have a vasectomy, you’ll still be able to ejaculate. This is because sperm makes up only a small proportion of semen (or seminal fluid), which is ejaculated from the body.

    Find out more about a vasectomy procedure, including what’s involved, alternatives, and your care and recovery after the procedure.

Men's health quiz

What do you know about men's health? Test your knowledge.

Did our information help you?

We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our health information.

About our health information

At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. This is because we believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and wellbeing.

Our information has been awarded the PIF TICK for trustworthy health information. It also complies with the HONcode standard and follows the principles of the The Information Standard.

The Patient Information Forum tick  This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.

Learn more about our editorial team and principles >

Related information

Tools and calculators

    • Wang Y, Hunt K, Nazareth I, et al. Do men consult less than women? An analysis of routinely collected UK general practice data BMJ Open 2013;3:e003320. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003320
    • Fundamental facts about mental health 2016. Mental Health Foundation., published 2016
    • Untold problems: a review of the essential issues in the mental health of men and boys. David Wilkins, Men's Health Forum., published 2010
    • No health without mental health: a cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages. Department of Health and Social Care., published February 2011
    • Mental wellbeing at work. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). published November 2009
    • Mental health. Oxford Handbook of General practice. 4th ed, online. Oxford Medicine Online., published March 2014
    • Research and analysis – chapter 2: major causes of death and how they have changed., published July 2017
    • CVD risk assessment and management. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries., last revised September 2014
    • Overview of coronary artery disease. MSD, last full review/revision September 2016
    • CVD statistics – BHF UK factsheet. British Heart Foundation., last reviewed and updated August 2017
    • Cardiovascular disease prevention. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). published June 2010
    • Cardiovascular disease: risk assessment and reduction, including lipid modification. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). last updated September 2016
    • Acute coronary syndromes. NICE British National Formulary., accessed January 2018
    • Beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs. NICE British National Formulary., accessed January 2018
    • Calcium-channel blockers. NICE British National Formulary,, accessed January 2018
    • Diuretics. NICE British National Formulary., accessed January 2018
    • Chest pain of recent onset: assessment and diagnosis. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). last updated November 2016
    • Non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed December 2017
    • Chest pain of recent onset: assessment and diagnosis. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). last updated November 2016
    • Prostate gland: anatomy. Encyclopaedia Britannica., last updated December 2017
    • Prostate cancer. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed December 2017
    • Benign prostatic hyperplasia. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed December 2017
    • Acute prostatitis. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed December 2017
    • Prostate cancer. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed December 2017
    • Testicular self-examination. The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS)., published June 2017
    • Testes and epididymis anatomy. Medscape., updated June 2016
    • Renal medicine and urology. Oxford handbook of general practice (online). Oxford Medicine Online., published March 2014
    • Testicular cancer incidence statistics. Cancer Research UK., accessed February 2018
    • Testicular cancer. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed January 2018
    • Penis: anatomy. Encyclopaedia Britannica., accessed February 2018
    • Erectile dysfunction. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed January 2018
    • Sexual health and contraception. Oxford handbook of general practice. 4th ed. Oxford Handbook Online., published March 2014
    • Erectile dysfunction. Patient Plus., last checked April 2016
    • Genital tract chlamydia infection. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed January 2018
    • Gonorrhoea infection. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed January 2018
    • Syphillis infection. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed January 2018
    • Lymphogranuloma venereum. BMJ Best Practice., last reviewed January 2018
    • STIs overview. FPA., accessed February 2018
    • Risks of buying medicines over the internet. Nidirect., accessed February 2018
    • Viagra Connect reclassification public assessment report. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)., last updated November 2017
    • Internet pharmacy. General Pharmaceutical Council., accessed February 2018
    • Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information. General Medical Council., effective April 2017
    • Depression. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries., last revised October 2015
    • Depression and men. Royal College of Psychiatrists., published June 2015
    • Cooney GM, Dwan K, Greig CA, et al. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD004366. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub6
    • Depression in adults: recognition and management. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). October 2009
    • Contraception – sterilisation. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries., last revised June 2016
    • Complications of urological surgery. Post-operative complications (Oxford specialist handbooks. 2nd ed.) (Online). Oxford Medicine Online., published March 2010
    • Semen. Encyclopaedia Britannica., accessed February 2018
    • Ejaculation. Encyclopaedia Britannica., accessed February 2018
    • Erectile dysfunction (causes). NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries., last revised December 2014
  • Reviewed by Laura Blanks, Specialist Health Editor, Bupa Health Content Team, April 2018
    Expert reviewer Dr Adrian Raby, General Practitioner
    Next review due April 2021