No-shave month promotes men’s health conversations

By Jackie Nevarez

As beards and mustaches flourish throughout November, many forget the real reason for the unkempt whiskers is to promote men’s health awareness.

No Shave November is the time for razors to be set aside and facial scruff to run wild and free. But, this month of manliness wasn’t just a fun way to show off testosterone when it started. In fact, No Shave November and Movember started out as different things that worked toward the same goals.

Both causes raise money for awareness of testicular and prostate cancer. Alicia Czachowski, assistant director of Health Enhancement, urged males to understand aging, family history and other factors may increase their chances of these types of cancer.

“Historically, men have not talked about these issues as much. It’s something that needs to be talked about more,” Czachowski said.

It’s important for everyone to be informed on men’s health issues and to do what they can to help. In 2003, 30 men in Australia did exactly that. Starting what officially became Movember, the group decided to grow mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health and prostate cancer. The idea evidently caught on and now every year more than a million people register online and participate in Movember.

Tradition has participants begin the month of November with a clean shave; at the end of the month, there is a big event when they all shave their mustaches. The organization now has a heavy focus on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health issues.

No Shave November, a group founded in 2009, focuses on raising awareness and funds for cancer research. The group encourages everyone to grow out their hair and skip grooming for the month.

Instead of buying razors, take your money and donate it to cancer research. Ladies, this includes you. Both organizations encourage women to put away the razors and cancel the waxing appointments for the month. It’s easy to spread awareness about men’s health.

Alexander McLean, junior visual communication major, said he’s participating in No Shave November’s tradition.

“There’s probably a good cause behind it, but I don’t know it,” McLean said. “I just kind of figured it was for fun.”

Although it is fun, besides being an excuse to show off and not shave, No Shave November and Movember have given men a time to become aware of the issues these organizations campaign for. Men between the ages of 18 and 40 are at the highest risk for developing testicular cancer, according to Movember’s website. A simple testicular self-exam can help men detect issues that may require medical attention.

Czachowski suggested men perform testicular self-exams once a month, as often as women perform breast self-exams. A testicular self-exam consists of rolling the testicle between the thumb and two fingers, feeling for bumps and pain.

Prostate cancer, on the other hand, is prominent in men older than 50 and is more likely to develop in African American men, according to Movember’s website.

Although there is no method for a male to test himself for prostate cancer, a yearly checkup and exam with a doctor can answer any questions and address any concerns. When detected early, treating prostate cancer has a 97 percent success rate, according to Movember.

“Do not be afraid to have these conversations. Talk to your doctor about this,” Czachowski said. “Save your time, effort and life.”

Whether you are rocking a killer mustache or a clean shave, I urge you to support these reputable causes in their efforts to fight cancer and promote health for men. Drop those razors and let it grow.