12th June 2024

International Men’s Health Week: Know Your Numbers

While many people may find discussing their health concerns and seeking medical advice quite challenging, in general, men are less likely to do so than women. Oftentimes men try to avoid seeking help for as long as possible, using excuses such as “I’m too busy to go to the doctor”, or “I’m sure it’s nothing serious”.

However, certain conditions such as prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and mental health issues have higher prevalence in men. Additionally, lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption may contribute to increased health risk. 

“ Know Your Numbers” is the theme of this year’s International Men’s Health Week, emphasising some of the important health metrics every man should be aware of.

The aim of this week is to spread awareness about some of the steps each man can take to prevent the development of certain health conditions through healthier lifestyle choices and seeking help when necessary. Men’s health matters, and whether you are a man or have men in your life who you care about, we encourage you being active participants in your health and wellbeing. 

Weight & waist size

Maintaining a healthy weight can help mitigate the risk of various health issues, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 20-25 kg/m², while the ideal waist circumference for men is less than 94cm.  

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential not only for reducing the risk of developing a number of conditions, but also for enhancing overall quality of life by improving mobility and strength and increasing energy levels.

To help you maintain a healthy weight, consider exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and eating a well-balanced diet low in saturated fats and rich in wholegrain products, vegetables, fruit, fish, and protein.

Physical activity 

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining both your physical and mental health. The recommendation would be to get between 3.5 – 7 hours of moderately vigorous activity per week, or 30 – 60 minutes per day.  The benefits of exercise are extensive, including maintaining a healthy weight, improving strength and flexibility, positively impacting mental health, and boosting your overall confidence. 

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer affects almost 4,000  new cases each year, making it the second most common cancer in Ireland affecting men. If you are over 50, regular Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) checks are crucial for early detection and intervention as prostate cancer may be present for many years without you knowing. 

Listening to your body and discussing any unusual changes with your healthcare provider is also vital for early detection. There are several symptoms you should be mindful of that may be warning signs of a number of prostate problems, including: 

  • Urinating more frequently
  • Needing to urinate during the night
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Pain when urinating 
  • Trouble starting or stopping urinating 
  • Bladder doesn’t feel empty 
  • Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs 
  • Trouble having or keeping an erection 
  • Blood in urine or semen 
  • Fatigue    


HealthCheck aims to help people identify risk factors, signs and symptoms of common conditions. The service includes a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, which is recommended for men over the age of 40.

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Smoking can adversely affect your health in numerous ways. Regular smoking can reduce your lifespan by a staggering 10 – 15 years1 and lead to the development of several health issues including cancer, heart attack, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, infertility, and many more.   

Men are more likely to smoke than women, with around 19% of men smoking compared to 16% of women2. Quitting smoking can be challenging, especially for long-term smokers or those using it as a stress coping mechanism. There are many resources available to help you quit smoking, including free support from the HSE.


In Irish culture, drinking alcohol is a cultural norm, which makes it more challenging to quit alcohol entirely. However, even reducing your alcohol consumption can have significant health benefits. 

For men, the maximum limit is 17 standard drinks a week. You can think of a standard drink as: 

  • 1 pint = 2 standard drinks
  • 1 small glass of wine (100 ml) = 1 standard drink
  • 1 spirit – Pub single measure = 1 standard drink
  • 1 bottle of wine (750 ml) = 7 standard drinks

To help you cut down on your alcohol consumption, you can employ some of the following techniques: 

  • Space out your alcohol consumption over the week and try to keep at least three days alcohol free. 
  • Try to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. 
  • Eat a meal before drinking. It’s better for your body to process alcohol with food as it lessens the effects of alcohol. 
  • If you are anticipating to be drinking for a number of hours, pace yourself by sipping slowly on your drink.  

Blood pressure

Healthy blood pressure should be below 140/90 mmHg. Regular monitoring of blood pressure can help with early detection of conditions such as hypertension, reducing the risk of severe health complications such as heart attacks and strokes. 

Mental health

Social standards and gender related stereotypes often discourage men from sharing their struggles, leading to underreported mental health issues. While women are more likely to seek help and be diagnosed with depression, 1 in 3 men report not seeking help for their mental health3. This leads to approximately 76% of suicides in Ireland being committed by men4.  

Despite the difficulty in discussing personal struggles, it’s important to know that your feelings are valid, and other people in your life may share similar experiences that will help them relate to your situation.

Remember “a problem shared is a problem halved” and no matter how you are feeling or what situation you are in, there is always someone there who will listen. 

If you need someone to talk to, there are a number of support organisations you can contact.  



Website: https://www.samaritans.org/samaritans-ireland/ 

Freephone: 116 123



Website: https://www.pieta.ie/ 

Freephone: 1800 247 247 

Text ‘HELP’ to 51444


Text about it

Website: https://www.textaboutit.ie/ 

Text ‘HELLO’ to 50808


  1. HSE
  2. University of Galway
  3. Aware
  4. CSO

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Health Screenings

Mater Private Network’s health screening services provide a snapshot of your overall health; identify any risk factors and allow you to put in place a plan to best prevent any future health issues.

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