Five health symptoms men shouldn't ignore

British men are paying the price for neglecting their health: more than 100,000 men a year die prematurely.

On average, men go to their GP half as often as women. It's important to be aware of changes to your health, and to see your GP immediately if you notice something that's not right.

Below are five important health issues for men and the symptoms you should never ignore.

A lump on your testicle

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 20 to 35. Nearly 2,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK.

If you notice a lump or abnormality in your testicles, first see your GP. Most testicular lumps are not cancer, but it is essential to have any abnormalities checked. This is because treatment for testicular cancer is much more effective if the cancer is diagnosed early.


Check your moles regularly and be aware of any change in colour or shape, or if they start bleeding. Most changes are harmless and are due to a non-cancerous increase of pigment cells in the skin.

See your GP if a mole looks unusual or becomes itchy. It can then be checked and removed if necessary.

To minimise your risk of skin cancer, avoid exposure to the sun between 11am and 3pm. Cover up and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 when you're in the sun.

  • Could you have a cancerous mole and not know it? Use our mole assessment to find out.
  • Read more information about moles.

Feeling depressed

If you’re depressed, you may lose interest in things you used to enjoy. If you’ve been having feelings of extreme sadness, contact your GP.

Depression is a real illness with real effects on your work, social and family life. Treatment usually involves a combination of self help, talking therapies and drugs.

Depression is more common in women, but men are far more likely to commit suicide. This may be because men are more reluctant to seek help.  

Trouble urinating

When the prostate is enlarged, it can press on the tube that carries urine from the bladder. This can make it hard to pass urine, which can be a sign of prostate disease, including cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. More than 30,000 men are diagnosed with it every year. Other symptoms include pain or burning when you pass urine and frequently waking up in the night to pee. If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP.  


Most men have problems getting or keeping an erection (impotence) at some point. See your GP if your erection problems last for several weeks.

Generally, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and exercise, can correct the problem. Some men may need medication such as sildenafil (also known as Viagra).

Your GP is likely to assess your general health because impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, can be a sign of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

  • Half of all men over 40 have had trouble getting an erection at least once. Read about the causes of impotence and where to get help.
  • Find out more about impotence.


If you are worried about your health have a look at the Man MOT, a confidential online surgery where you can talk to a GP anonymously.

Page last reviewed: 20/01/2014

Next review due: 20/01/2016


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The 11 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

DBMGZ said on 18 May 2014

In our men's health clinic our experience is that men are ashamed of their typical male disorder and therefore prefer to keep it quiet then go to the doctor. Tomorrow is another day, right ...

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dieselmechanic said on 26 February 2013

I honestly think that the NHS should send a letter out to male patients between the ages of 20-40 to reminde them to go see their doctor/nurse to have their testicles examined by a professional. There is alot of people out there who think they will be fine. Girls get a letter sent to them for their cervical smear test to try prevent cancer. I honestly think it should be done with males too.

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Beaupor Limoilou said on 11 December 2012

This article implies men can ignore other symptons not listed. It says that there are five, and only five, symptoms you should never ignore.

I think it is dangerous to suggest men ignore other symptons such as chest pains which could indicate a heart attack. There are many other symptons men should not ignore and listing just five is dangerous.

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mathewsk said on 14 November 2012

I came here after seeing your advertisement for 5aday. Let's see now, on this page you resort to the politically correct blaming of men for everything wrong.
When i had a torsion of the testicle, it took me TWO years to get it acknowledged - the whole time I had endless days of pain & agony. The NHS adverts all focus on women's health, the Drs surgery reflects the same, female staff on the front, female magazines left around, etc. men are simply made to not feel welcome. In the home, when a man complains too much about being ill he is mocked, how often do we hear men being told to 'man up' and 'stop snivelling' or mockery about the so-called 'man flu'? Your own adverts mocked men, you taught a young child to see 'males' as useless in the shopping dept and his choice to buy a healthy item was 'rare' allegedly.
And you wonder WHY men shy away from the health service?
Perhaps you could stop insulting us and letting us know that you do actually care about the disposable sex for a change.

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Jaxx 99 said on 06 December 2011

Is it any wonder men do not see a GP when there first interaction with the GP surgery is with a FEMALE receptionist who will ask full details of the reason for seeing a GP. Men who see a practice nurse will inevitably be seen by a FEMALE nurse.

Women who attend for routine screeing will ALWAYS be seen by a nurse practioner and receptionist of the same sex.

The NHS can only improve male health when they provide equal access to same sex clinicians and administrators.

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Breadandjam said on 24 July 2011

It would be more accurate and fairer to say "British men are paying the price for *the NHS* neglecting their health: more than 100,000 men a year die prematurely"

On average men die several years before women, yet what do we see in this article? It is blamed on men for not going to the doctor enough.

There are few *effective* campaigns related to men's health. Women are automatically written to and told to come in for various scans and tests, men very rarely by comparison. There are many examples of the NHS/society in general ignoring men's health or somehow devaluing men taking care of it. There should be a campaign to stamp out jokes about 'man flu' which imply that when a man is ill he is being a wimp. If going to the doctor is presented as being 'unmanly' then men will try not to. It is up to healthcare professionals to make men feel welcomed rather than let them down as they are doing so now.

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Heavyone said on 15 June 2011

Getting to see my GP is a trauma in itself. Try queuing up outside at 7.30am on a cold wet morning, when you are already feeling unwell. I sufferd a heart attack in November 2010 and have seen my GP only twice since!

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doncross said on 15 June 2011

Having suffered an unexpected heart attack at 62,and having to have heart by-pass surgery,I would encourage all men aged 50 plus,to get a heart check,also look at your general health,wieght,diet,exercise,ect.
50% of all heart attack victims die within 28 days.
You might not be the lucky one.

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Flood Lit said on 08 June 2011

It is very lazy to write men are neglecting their health. Men care just as much as women about their health and not dying prematurely. Men cannot access good quality healthcare in the same way as women. Primary Care remains unwelcoming for men. An all female reception team wanting to know the reason for a consultation is usual. It is also expected that all nursing staff will be female. Most GP surgeries are littered with leaflets about childhood illness, female tests and healthcare, and older people health. There is no promotion of male health. If women had to see only male nurses and male reception staff then they would also go to their surgery less often.

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MetalBoy said on 26 May 2011

I agree with the idea that men are more reluctant to seek help for depression. I thought it was something that would 'just go away'; sometimes it is just passing, but it's worth seeing a GP just in case, as if it does develop beyond that it can take a heck of a lot away from your life.

I spent (wasted?) a couple of years in and out of moderate to severe depression. I was reluctant to get treatment, see a counsellor etc.. I thought I could just pull myself together. As well as losing self esteem and enjoyment of life, I also lost my job and some friends who couldn't cope with the change in me..

If I'd known then how much talking to someone would've helped and how anti-depressants could stabilise me enough to think my way out of a bad place (some side effects are weird, but they worked for me) I would've accepted help a lot sooner!

There're a lot of treatments out there too. Even if you don't like the idea of medication, you can get to see a counsellor or therapist through your GP. You can even do Cognitive Behavioural Therapy online now!

I just hope this can help someone else either drag themselves out of depression or, preferably, avoid falling too deep into it in the first place. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn't always a freight train coming your way. (throw away Metallica reference there!!) :-)

Seriously, I don't consider myself amazingly resilient, and with help I've pretty much got over it now, so no reason anyone else can't. It can be a very difficult thing to deal with, but it's well worth fighting it.

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Driven_Pink said on 09 November 2010

Whilst Testicular self examination may seem a sensible idea there appears no evidence that it is effective. How many false alarms are triggered by encouraging this amateur approach to health care? If a man has visited a doctor once, twice or more just to be told they have identified an ingrowing hair or rash are they not more likely to avoid the next visit when they do find something else. Breast self examination has given way to general advice on know your body .... why are mens health messages once again lagging behind?

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