Good….now I have caught your attention!
In the past, my articles have routinely been for women, but today it’s for men, especially since it is No Shave November. The discussion for today looks at the world of men, their levels of injury, and sexuality following a spinal cord injury.
Let’s investigate the physiology of the spinal cord injury occurrence. When I wrote the article Fit, Fabulous, and Functioning, I stated that when the spinal cord is injured, it’s anyone’s guess as to the functioning that would return and with that being said, it is the same with men, spinal cord injury, and sexual functioning. Functioning means how your body will operate following a spinal cord injury, such as does your little toe move independently and not your right index finger? Some people can move their right extremities and not their left. Some can move their lower extremities and not their upper. Hold on men….don’t stop reading yet.
November is your special month. Discussing special testing men should have to maintain good health is my topic for “Movember,” November for Men. Men need to maintain good health as well, and there are special tests that need to be considered just like with women. All of us women go through a battery of lab tests, complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry levels but additionally, other annual physical exams for men might also include:
- Testicular Exam: A doctor can check each testicle for lumps, tenderness, or changes in size. Most men with testicular cancer notice a growth before seeing a doctor.
- Hernia Exam: The famous “turn your head and cough” checks for a weakness in the abdominal wall between the intestines and scrotum.
- Genital Exam: A doctor examines for evidence of sexually transmitted infections.
- Prostate Exam: Sorry guys, this is necessary for good health…a doctor feels the prostate for its size and any suspicious areas.
- Checking for Colorectal Cancer: CDC data from 2005 suggest that nearly 42 million Americans over 50 have not yet been screened appropriately. There are several techniques for screening. Ask your physician which test is best for you.
- Skin Cancer: Visit a dermatologist on a regular basis for any overall skin exam. The American Academy of Dermatologists suggests a monthly self-exam to look for irregular moles. This is more difficult for those of us with SCIs, but our skin should be inspected regularly for more than just irregular moles. I suggest do this from a personal standpoint; my husband was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2007 and he undergoes routine checkups to maintain his good health.
- Urologist: This one is coming from The Rollin RN…..men and women need to find a urologist (a physician who has specialized knowledge and skill regarding problems of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs) who you are comfortable with discussing your urological and reproductive issues.
- Primary Care Physician: Another one from The Rollin RN. Men I understand, because I have the same issue with my husband, that you all prefer not to go to a doctor. However, you do need someone to direct and understand your healthcare, and your significant other is not the one to do it. Most of us with SCIs are on some meds and a primary care physician can orchestrate and help maintain your yearly health needs.
There is an excellent article written for Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation titled “Sexual Health for Men.” Paralysis affects a man’s sexuality both physically and psychologically. Men wonder, “Can I still do it?” Men worry that sexual pleasure is a thing of the past. They worry that they can no longer father children; mates will find them unattractive, that partners will pack up and leave. It is true that, after disease or injury, men often face changes in their relationships and sexual activity. Emotional changes occur, of course, and these too can affect a person’s sexuality. Check out this article men. It’s a good and timely read.
Just because there is a limited function below the level of injury from a spinal cord injury, doesn’t mean that your health is not maintained. Especially now is even more reason to maintain good health. Your loved ones depend on you.
It’s all good.
Patty, RNC, BSN
THE ROLLIN RN
Annual physical exams: What to expect. Obtained May 31, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/annual-physical-examinations?page=2.
Men’s Health Tune-up Schedule: Medical Tests. Obtained November 6, 2016 from http://www.webmd.com/men/features/mens-health-tuneup-schedule-medical-tests?print=true.
Sexual Health for Men. Obtained on November 2, 2016 from https://www.christopherreeve.org/living-with-paralysis/health/sexual-health/sexual-health-for-men.
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