Movember: The Movement That Called Attention to Men’s Health

The month of November is internationally known as Movember and is dedicated to creating awareness about men’s health, symbolized by men growing mustaches for the month. The Movember movement officially reached the United States in 2007. However, the idea was conceived in a bar in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003 by two friends—Travis Garone and Luke Slattery. Noticing the absence of the mustache (moustache) from the fashion scene, Garone and Slattery challenged men to grow mustaches for a fee of $10 AUD. They soon decided to make this a campaign about men’s health, specifically prostate cancer. 

Thirty men agreed to take up the challenge in 2003, and the number grew to 480 participants in 2004. Another friend, Justin Coghlan, joined the duo in 2004, and the campaign expanded interstate. In the same year, they raised $40,851 and donated the funds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). From then onward, the Movember movement grew each year, joined by other countries such as New Zealand in 2006, and Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America in 2007.

In 2006, Movember was officially designated an Australian charity and has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects since 2003. Today, the campaign, which began with 30 local participants, has reached more than five million participants worldwide. As the movement continues, individuals and organizations partner with charities every November since its inception to host fundraising events in local communities and workplaces. The movement focuses on three major causes of death in men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide, all of which are covered in Omnigraphics’ Men’s Health Concerns Sourcebook.

Prostate Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 288,300 new prostate cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2023, and 34,700 cases will result in death. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland of the male reproductive system that sits below the bladder. Along with the seminal vesicles (attached to the back of the prostate), the prostate gland produces seminal fluid. Second to non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. The cause of prostate cancer remains unknown.

Prostate cancer is classified into four stages:

  • Stages I and II of prostate cancer are considered early-stage or localized prostate cancer. At these stages, the tumor has not spread beyond the prostate gland.
  • Stage III of prostate cancer is also called locally advanced prostate cancer, in which the tumor has spread to nearby tissues.
  • Stage IV or advanced prostate cancer is when the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • blood in urine
  • urinary incontinence
  • pain during ejaculation
  • bone pain
  • blood in semen
  • erectile dysfunction
  • sudden weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • weak urine flow
  • pain in the pelvic zone

Prostate cancer is highly treatable if caught at an early stage. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported a 97.1 percent five-year relative survival rate between 2014 and 2019. Omnigraphics’ Prostate and Other Urological Diseases Sourcebook covers a variety of prostate conditions along with diagnosis and treatment options. Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 50.

Testicular Cancer

The ACS estimates a diagnosis of 9,190 new cases of testicular cancer in the United States in 2023, of which 470 will result in death. Testicles are part of the male reproductive system and are present at the base of the penis in a sack of skin called the scrotum. The testicles produce testosterone and sperm. According to ACS, 90 percent of testicular cancers begin in the germ cells, which make up the sperm in men and the egg in women. Testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of 15 and 45 and is highly treatable.

Testicular cancer is classified into the following stages:

  • At Stage 0, also called germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNIS), the abnormal cell growth is limited to seminal tubes within the testicles. This is a marker that indicates cancer can develop.
  • At Stage I, the cancer is confined to the testicle and has not spread to nearby vessels.
  • At Stage II, the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes of the abdomen.
  • At Stage III, the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and lymph nodes beyond the abdomen.

Symptoms of testicular cancer include:

  • swelling or a painless lump in either of the testicles
  • a dull ache in the groin, lower abdomen, or testicle
  • pain, discomfort, or fluid buildup in the scrotum
  • shrinking in a testicle
  • tenderness in the breast tissue

According to NCI, the five-year relative survival rate for testicular cancer patients between 2013 and 2019 was 95.2 percent. Omnigraphics’ Men’s Health Concerns Sourcebook extensively covers medical conditions common in men, including testicular cancer and prostate cancer.

Mental Health Issues and Suicide

The stigma around men’s mental health and the burden of masculine stereotypes, which dictate that men should always be emotionally strong and quiet, prevents young boys and men from asking for help. According to Mental Health America’s (MHA) recent report, more than six million men suffer from depression in the United States every year; more than three million men have panic disorder, agoraphobia (fear of places or situations that may cause feelings of panic), or any other phobia; of the 3.5 million cases of schizophrenia diagnosed in the country, 90 percent are reported in men by the age of 30.

The pressure to adhere to traditional gender roles, accepted masculine traits, and a lack of social connections can cause men to downplay the symptoms of their deteriorating mental health. In many cases, men turn to alcohol and drugs to cope. Feelings of isolation coupled with substance abuse may propel a person to suicidal ideation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 5 percent increase in suicide deaths in 2021, after a two-year decline in 2019 and 2020. In 2022, the CDC reported a further rise in the overall suicide death rate by 2.6 percent. The suicide rate in men was 2.3 percent, and 3.8 percent in women, in 2022.

Symptoms of mental health issues in men may include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • anger, aggressiveness, and irritability
  • reduced work performance
  • headaches or stomach aches
  • lack of concentration
  • reckless behavior
  • violent or abusive behavior
  • substance abuse
  • changes in weight
  • changes in sleeping habits 
  • mood swings
  • fatigue

More information on mental health and suicide prevention can be found in Omnigraphics’ Mental Health Disorders Sourcebook.

If you or a loved one is in a crisis, reach out to:

Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 800-950-6264. 

In case of an emergency, call 911. 

Various nonprofit organizations and private and federal agencies partner to create awareness of men’s health through events such as health fairs, sports events, and walkathons. This November, find ways to join the movement by partnering with the Movember Foundation or local advocacy groups and healthcare agencies. 

Additional Resources 

Movember - Events 

Men’s Health Foundation

Men’s Health Network

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