Men’s Health

In New Zealand, men have a lower life expectancy and health status than women. Many men can be prone to ignoring possible health issues and avoiding the Doctor. The Doctors and Nurses at the Upper Hutt Health Centre understand that Men’s health is any issue that impacts men’s quality of life, and requires a gender-orientated response to improve men’s health and wellbeing at an individual level. We’re all about helping men live healthier and happier.

Testicular Cancer

What is Testicular Cancer?

Cancer that develops in a testicle is called testicular cancer. When testicular cancer spreads, the cancer cells are carried by blood or by lymph, an almost colourless fluid produced by tissues all over the body. The fluid passes through lymph nodes, which filter out bacteria and other abnormal substances such as cancer cells. Doctors use CT scans of the abdomen and chest in an attempt to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or lungs.

For advice on how to examine your testicles click here.

Symptoms of testicular cancer

  • A lump in either testicle
  • Any enlargement of a testicle
  • A significant shrinking of a testicle
  • A change in the consistency of a testicle (hardness)
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen or in the groin
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts

Prostate Cancer

In New Zealand, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, around 3,000 registrations each year and about 600 deaths from prostate cancer each year.

Men who develop prostate cancer are mostly over the age of 65. It rarely occurs in men younger than 55. About one in 13 men will develop prostate cancer before the age of 75. In very elderly men, prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may cause no symptoms.

Symptoms of Prostate Problems

Many men begin to have problems with their prostate as they get older. Most problems are caused by simple enlargement of the prostate, but a few are caused by cancer. To get checked for Prostate Cancer consult with your GP.

Usually the first sign of trouble is with passing urine. A man may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • trouble getting the flow of urine started, especially if in a hurry
  • trouble stopping the flow of urine (“dribbling”)
  • the stream of urine is weak, or it stops and starts
  • needing urgently to pass urine at any time
  • feeling a need to pass urine more often during the day, even though not much comes out
  • getting up at night to pass urine more than once
  • feeling a need to pass more urine, even though none comes out
  • pain and/or burning when passing urine; this may be a sign of infection

Erection troubles

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Having occasional trouble getting an erection or keeping an erection hard is nothing to worry about. Sometimes our trouble is caused by tiredness, alcohol, or mood.

But having erection troubles more than 50% of the time is a sign there’s a problem that needs treatment.

The most common reason for erection trouble is poor blood flow to the penis. This is most often a result of damaged arteries caused by heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Being unable to get an erection
  • Only getting soft erections or partial erections
  • Losing hardness sooner than normal
  • No morning erections

Getting tested

It is important for your health, and for the health of your relationship that you seek help and advice from a doctor. The Doctors at the Upper Hutt Health Centre deal with this stuff every day, so there’s no need to be embarrassed.

The longer you let it go on, the more strain it will place on you and your partner. Talk openly with your doctor about it so they can identify what’s causing your erection troubles and prescribe the correct treatment.

Heart Attack

1 in 5 men will die from a heart attack.

Our heart muscle needs oxygen to keep working. It gets oxygen in blood that is pumped to the heart through the arteries. A heart attack happens when arteries become blocked, stopping oxygen from reaching parts of the heart. An artery spasm from smoking or drug taking can also interrupt the blood flow to the heart and cause a heart attack. Minutes later, parts of the heart start to die. The sooner the blocked artery can be opened and the blood flow restored, the better our chances of survival.

Who gets them?

Heart attacks are rare in men under 45 (although it’s rising for that age group), and chances of having a heart attack increase as you get older.

People who are overweight, smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or have diabetes are more at risk of a heart attack.

Heart attack risk can run in your family. So, if someone in your immediate family has had a heart attack, then your chances on having one are higher.

Some people will experience chest pains (angina) in the days or weeks leading up to a heart attack, and some people will have no warning signs at all.

Angina is a pain that comes from your heart and feels like a tightening or squeezing in your chest. It’s a symptom of heart disease where the build-up of cholesterol lining your arteries restricts your blood and oxygen flow to the heart. Angina pain can last around 10 minutes and can spread to your jaw, back or shoulders. Angina doesn’t cause permanent damage to the heart, but it’s a major warning sign that your arteries are getting blocked.


As well as chest pain, you might also experience the following at the onset of a heart attack:

  • Cold sweat or nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain spreading to one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach

High Cholesterol

25% of men over 55 have high cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that helps our organs and cells function. Our livers naturally make all the cholesterol we need, but we get extra cholesterol from eating certain foods like butter, pies, some meats, processed foods, and fried foods. This extra cholesterol goes straight into our bloodstream and too much of it can block our arteries and cause a heart attack or stroke.

How to lower your cholesterol

Making healthy changes to your lifestyle will help you manage your blood pressure, cholesterol and lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. Your doctor may suggest medications as an option that can lower your cholesterol and risk of heart attack and stroke.

The thought of making changes may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that even a small change can have a positive impact. You can choose to work on as many or as few risk factors as you would like. The more you change, the better the result.

  • Quit smoking
  • Move more
  • Eat and drink for a healthy heart
  • Reach a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Take medications

High Blood Pressure

By the age of 55, one in three men will be taking medication for high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also called Hypertension. It can cause your blood vessels to harden and narrow, and increase your chances of having a stroke or a heart attack.

Your blood pressure is the pressure at which your heart pumps blood around your body. Your blood pressure reading is made up of two measurements: the pressure when your heart is pumping, and the pressure when it’s resting.

It is normal for your blood pressure to vary during the day. It might be higher after exercise for example or after taking some medications. But if it doesn’t return to normal after a short time, then you may have a problem.