Questions men dare not ask a doctor

Man wipes away sweat with his tie Sweating on the way to a date. Every man's worst nightmare?

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Figures suggest women are much more likely than men to visit a doctor. Even when they do, men can find it hard to talk about what's really ailing them. So what strange worries are on their mind?

Men are notorious for failing to open up about things that are bothering them. Particularly when their concerns are of a medical nature.

A survey by the Office for National Statistics found women were more likely than men to visit their GP regularly, and the Men's Health Forum also thinks men are becoming increasingly unlikely to visit a GP. With 17 years in medicine, Dr Mark Hamilton has first-hand experience of the medical matters that men struggle to talk about the most.

For the 60-Second Hypochondria slot on BBC Radio 5 live's Men's Hour, Dr Hamilton reveals some of the more unusual questions men have struggled to spit out to him - and gives his answers for those who have never been brave enough to ask.

"We offer an honest and accurate answer to practically any question a man can think of," said Dr Hamilton.

Start Quote

Dr Mark Hamilton

Men can think of some weird and wonderful questions”

End Quote Dr Mark Hamilton

"And in my experience, men can think of some weird and wonderful questions. It still seems that they're a bit reluctant to visit the doctor for advice, so Men's Hour brings the doctor to them.

"The majority of my working life has been spent in the emergency department so I've been faced with dilemmas and questions covering almost any topic.

"Whether it's been busting an urban myth or challenging what some 'bloke down the pub' said, no question is too silly or trivial.

"Not every query has to be about sex or penis function, but that does still seem to make up the bulk of them as you'll see with the following selection."

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Tim Samuels presents Men's Hour on BBC Radio 5 live Sundays at 21:00 BST

How can I stop myself from sweating on a date?

There are actually specific shields designed for excessive sweating. If your antiperspirant isn't working, then aluminium chloride is special stuff you can get; ask your pharmacist about it. There are very specific instructions about using it but it is very good at cutting sweating. The psychological side of it is, try to relax. Don't feel the need to talk all the time, ask about her and be interested and that should relax you.

What's the best food to eat on a date to keep my energy up and stop her from falling asleep?

It's usually excessive alcohol that saps your energy. I think the best thing is to enjoy the food, don't worry about exactly what you choose. I recommend maybe a coffee at the end to keep your spirits up and a lovely romantic walk just to get the wind in your hair.

If I get shot, am I better off leaving the bullet in or trying to take it out?

Absolutely leave it in. You need to find yourself a friendly surgeon and an anaesthetist, because you could do a lot of potential damage to yourself.

Could a tight pair of swimming trunks worn all summer affect my reproductive chances?

Tight swimming trunks Does what you slip on for a dip really affect your chances of fatherhood?

This is a common myth. If you increase the temperature in the scrotum it does decrease the quality of the semen, and there has been a bit of evidence to suggest that tight underwear can drop quality. But it hasn't actually been proven that it will affect fertility, so the jury is still out on this one.

What are the odds of my wife looking like her mother when she gets older - even though my wife is skinny but her mum is plump and jolly?

Genetics are very complicated. Even though you inherit half from your mum and half from your dad, it's not like a 50/50 chance. It depends on how those genes are expressed by the person. So if she expresses lots of her dad's genes she will look like her dad and if she expresses of lots her mum's genes she will look like her mum. You can't put an exact figure on it.

Could the nits on my child's head end up relocating to my pubic hair?

The nits are actually the eggs, so it's the lice that are the worry. The lice that live in the head are a completely a different species to the lice that live in the pubic hair. So I suppose it technically is possible but generally it's not seen in practice. You would have to have very close contact to share that - so no that wouldn't happen.

If I am fighting or running away what's that coppery taste I get in mouth?

Man at urinals Does spending a few pennies too many signify prostate troubles?

I've heard people talk about this being the taste of adrenaline because you do get a huge surge of adrenaline when you are fighting or running away - it's the fight or flight hormone. But I think it's actually more likely to be the taste of blood, which has a kind of iron or rusty taste, as you get microscopic bleeding when you are doing anything strenuous. You get this from inside the mouth or from the lungs.

Would circumcising my son reduce the overall length of his penis?

No, it wouldn't.

Is it possible to have a penis transplant?

Yes. The first penis transplant was done in China several years ago and it was deemed to be successful. However, it had to be removed after a few weeks because of what they described as a severe psychological reaction. I think he couldn't feel it and his wife thought it was a bit weird.

Should I be worried if I am weeing three times in the night?

That does sound like it's a little frequent and if you're a bloke this might point towards a possible problem with your prostate. So, go and have a chat with your GP.

Catch 60-Second Hypochondria with Dr Mark Hamilton on Men's Hour, presented by Tim Samuels, on BBC Radio 5 live Sundays at 21:00 BST.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    Paul at 224 on 21st Aug gave 2 examples of several studies showing that
    circumcision does reduce penis length by an average of 8mm. We trust
    that Dr Mark Hamilton will look these up. My doctor, when not sure about an answer will seek out information..Dr Hamilton did not ask the parents "what is the boy suffering from to require this operation?"
    He might have spoken of its short and long term harm

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    "233.Michael Bolognese
    I believe a big part of the reason for men being less willing to visit doctors is there is far more emphasis places on women's health in general in our society. Looking at some of publicity campaigns you'd think only women got cancer *cough*raceforlife*cough*"

    *cough* Movember *cough*

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Thank you to whoever provided the link to Cancer Research UK. It seems that in 2010 there was a lot more spent on research into breast cancer than there was into prostrate cancer but as the web page points out the reasons for different funding can be complicated. Charity covers a lot of the cost of research so all the men complaining about this decrepancy should be get out and start fundraising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    "You should also check out being tested for Diabetes if you're weeing a lot in the night."

    Don't forget bladder, prostate, any diuretics or otherwise medicines that cause issues. Oh, and then there is the too much fluid too late at night, and, and .... List goes on. If only it were as easy as you make it seem; at 29, I've for years have had this, and I'm anything but diabetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    I work as a GP and often find that middle aged men are apologetic for seeing their doctor. Even if they attend for minor ailments I never brush them off and use the opportunity to carry out health checks such as blood pressure/BMI and even offer cholesterol/glucose tests in over-40's.


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