Updated: Aug 24, 2018
Dr Susannah Talks Facial Hair And Mens Health
I cannot lie. I like moustaches …and beards. One would think then, that I would looooooove Movember.
I love the idea – raising awareness of men’s health issues and the need to be proactive about these things. Let’s face it. If you know an adult man well, you also know that men are (generally) notoriously bad at this deal. They just don’t go to the doctor unless a) they’re harassed into going or b) they are so sick it’s obvious that death is likely imminent (and even then they complain!).
So I’m exaggerating …a little.
Research does show that a high percentage of men are reluctant to address health related matters. Male-related cancers are often diagnosed in later stages because of the delay in seeking treatment and the consequence is a higher death rate once diagnosed. Gentlemen, this is a sucky state of affairs.
Back to the moustache thing. I don’t love Movember because the moustaches that appear are, quite frankly, ridiculous. Monstrous huge things, stuck on the upper lip and obscuring half the face, waxed, pomaded, and sculpted into the facial version of dreadlocks or a beehive.
No. No. No.
A well trimmed, groomed, and carefully tended face garden is swoon-worthy.
At this point, I confess to thoroughly appreciating the many, many ways that beards (can one call a slick of hair following the jaw line a “beard?”) and moustaches are coiffed in Kuwait. I marveled at the preciseness of the grooming and often wondered how long its wearer had to spend at the barber’s to look like that. Certainly longer than my own Craftsman, who has sported a beard in some variation since we married, 33 years ago. The very few periods when he was clean-shaven have been mostly erased from my memory as a bad dream. (While working on the oil rigs in the late 80s, he had to be clean-shaven because of the face masks worn during emergencies. When he appeared sans beard, he freaked out both of his small daughters who had never seen him without. It took them awhile to warm up to him again. The minute that job was finished, he went back to his usual look.) Obviously, I can’t grow a moustache worthy of this month’s hirsute focus. I can, however, support the cause.
And I most definitely do.
GENTLEMEN! Go and have a general physical, complete with blood work and a prostate exam. For many of you, it will all be groovy ...except for when the doctor tells you to eat less, stop smoking, and exercise more. Do. That. Those test results can provide a benchmark that will build a comparative picture of your health, enabling any anomaly to be caught sooner. This is a good thing.
For the minority of you for whom more tests will be ordered or to whom bad news will be delivered, know that treatment is usually successful, and catching the problem sooner is way, way better than later. My friend Bob is still doing what he does because of this movement. He went to the doctor in response to the awareness campaign and as a consequence, received a diagnosis, treatment, and eventually, a new lease on life because the cancer was caught early. He’s a great believer in Movember.
Go on. Grow that moustache, make that appointment, and spread the word. Be proactive, for your sake and for the ones who love you.
Dr. Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg, RPC, MPCC-S, DAAETS, ACS