Remember that the age of sexual consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 and the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland is 16.
Having sex can be a mixed bag of emotions at times. You can feel self-conscious, nervous, excited or maybe not ready so here are a few common worries and a few remedies that may help:
There are several different types of baldness, some of which can be temporary. However the most common form of baldness that men worry about is known as male pattern baldness. 95% of male hair loss is caused by this.
The fancy scientific term for male pattern baldness is androgenic alopecia. Bit of an unsexy mouthful eh?
Balding generally starts when a man is in his 20s or 30s. About 50% of men begin to lose their hair by the time they are 30, and 60% of men have lost hair by the time they are 60. It is a genetic condition, which means that you are born with the tendency to develop this type of baldness.
What causes it?
Basically male pattern baldness is caused by the male hormone testosterone converting to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on the glands of the scalp.
DHT then shrinks and reduces blood flow to the hair follicles. With reduced blood flow and shrinkage, hair can no longer re-grow. So it starts to fall out. First the hairline recedes back, followed by the hair on the top of the head.
The amount of DHT you produce and your sensitivity to it is controlled by your genes. It used to be thought that the genes for male pattern baldness came only from the mother’s side, but we now know that they come from both sides.
Trauma can cause temporary hair loss also i.e. car accidents or severe emotional upsets. However, this hair loss is usually temporary and does not start with receding along the hairline as in male pattern baldness. Rather, the hair falls out fairly evenly all over the head in such cases. This type of temporary hair loss can also be caused by an underactive or over active thyroid, nutrient deficiencies and hair pulling.
What can you do about it?
We're all different. We come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, we like different things and we have different beliefs. And we also all have very distinctive body shapes and sizes.
Healthy body image
What do you think when you look in the mirror? Are you happy with what you see or do you spend ages worrying about whether you look the way you ‘should’?
Don’t get hung up on your body, remember It takes all sorts to make the world. There are millions of different types of people so accept yourself as you are. With all the bodily changes (and life changes) taking place during your teens and early twenties it’s easy to become obsessed with how you look. Afterall your body is going through a lot of changes during this time and all those hormones whizzing around can really affect your moods.
It can be really hard if you are developing faster or slower than your friends, but remember that everyone develops at a different rate. In the long run, it makes no difference when you start and it won't affect what you will be like as an adult. This body stuff is not a competition. Try to relax, and if you are really worried talk to your parents, friends or someone that you trust.
Remember: you are who you are, there is no one in the world like you–which makes every one of us different and special in our own right. Each of us has a purpose, we have our own skills and talents, our own ambitions in life and our own sense of who we want to be.
You don’t have to follow trends to be ‘cool’ or to be part of the ‘in crowd’. Just because a singer, movie star, or even friends want you to look or act like them or do what they do doesn’t mean you have to.
You can be an individual, wear the clothes you want and choose whatever accessories you wish–as long as you feel happy with yourself, that’s all that counts.
Make sure you don’t let others put you down or try to change you, they’re not you! They don’t feel what you feel. You live your life and let them get on with theirs. Be happy in your own skin and enjoy being your own individual self.
You've just got your exam results and you're planning on heading out tonight. The chances are that alcohol may play a part in your night, and even if you're not drinking, some of your friends might be. So it’s important to remember to drink responsibly and know what to do if things get out of hand.
Keep in mind that if you are feeling down about your results, then alcohol might not be a good idea. Alcohol is a depressant and may add to your feelings of lowness or make you a tad emotional. Going might be the last thing you feel like doing so don't feel pressured in to anything. But if you do drink, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Remember that it’s against the law for a young person under 18 to buy alcohol or drink alcohol in a public place.
To have epilepsy is to have a tendency to have recurring seizures. Anyone can have a seizure, if the brain is exposed to a strong enough stimulus. We know that about 1 in every 20 people will have a single seizure at some time during their lives.
The Prevalence of Epilepsy in Ireland report (2009) found that there are 37,000 people with epilepsy in Ireland over the age of five. That’s 1 in 115 people.
The significance of having a tendency to have seizures will vary from person to person, and will depend on many things; for most people, epilepsy, will only affect them for a short period in their lives. For some, however, the consequences can be more lasting.
In more than half of all cases, no cause can be found. The person with epilepsy is apparently healthy in every respect and there is no underlying illness, disease or damage causing them to have seizures. This kind of epilepsy is sometimes called idiopathic epilepsy. It would seem that some of us just have a greater propensity than others to have seizures.
Sometimes a cause for the epilepsy can be found. Anything that damages or injures the brain can result in epilepsy. Some of the common causes are head injuries, strokes, brain infections e.g. meningitis or encephalitis and birth defects. Other more rare causes are brain tumours and some genetic conditions like tuber sclerosis.
The brain is the control centre for the body. It is made up of millions of neurons or brain cells which are constantly transmitting and receiving messages enabling our bodies to work properly. If some of these brain cells malfunction, for any reason, the messages can become disorganised and a seizure may result.
The type of seizure a person has will depend on where in the brain the malfunction occurs. There are many different kinds of seizures but they are usually divided into two categories - generalised or partial.
If a seizure is generalised it means that the whole brain is affected by the malfunction and the person invariably loses consciousness. Tonic-clonic and Absences are examples of generalised seizures.
If only part of the brain is affected, the person may remain conscious throughout the seizure or their consciousness may be impaired in some way. What the person does or experiences during the seizure will very much depend on what part of the brain is malfunctioning. Sometimes a partial seizure is called a focal seizure.
What is a tonic-clonic seizure?
A Tonic-Clonic seizure is a major convulsive seizure. It is what most people think of when they think of epilepsy and used to be called "grand-mal".
The whole brain suddenly malfunctions and the person loses consciousness immediately and falls to the ground. Sometimes the person may appear to cry out as he or she falls to the ground. This noise is caused by air being forcefully expelled from the lungs. The body stiffens briefly, (the tonic phase) and then starts jerking (the clonic phase). Breathing may be shallow and even stop for a few moments causing the skin to turn a bluish colour. Saliva may gather in the mouth and, occasionally, bladder or bowel control may be lost.
The jerking movements slow down and the seizure usually ends naturally after a few minutes. On returning to consciousness, the person may feel confused and sleepy but many people are able to resume their normal activities after resting for a short while.
What is an absence?
An absence is another type of generalised seizure. It looks like a short staring spell that lasts for a few seconds. This type of seizure is most often seen in children.
The child is momentarily completely unaware of what is going on around him or her, but very quickly, returns to full consciousness without falling or loss of muscle control. Some children will stumble and fall if they have this kind of seizure while running around at play.
These seizures happen so quickly that they can go unnoticed for some time. Often parents and teachers think that the child is just being inattentive or is daydreaming. Because of this and because absences can occur very frequently, sometimes many times a day, they can adversely affect a child's learning. Once detected, they are usually quite easily treated.
Yes is the short answer, just as it would be for asthma, diabetes and many other conditions often assumed to be 'benign'. In fact, there are approximately 130 epilepsy deaths in Ireland each year. Drowning, head injury and road traffic accidents account for many of these deaths. Likewise, status epilepticus, which is a prolonged seizure or series of seizures from which the person does not recover consciousness, cerebrovascular diseases and chest infections are also common causes of death. Suicide too is 2-3 times higher with epilepsy than the rest of the population.
All of the above deaths together account for around 50% of epilepsy deaths. They would be greatly reduced if the seizures of the people dying in these ways were fully eliminated. This is also true for the biggest single cause of epilepsy deaths, which accounts for at least half of them. It is sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
These premature deaths of otherwise healthy people with epilepsy have no obvious explanation. Usually, the person is found dead without any warning and routine autopsy fails to establish the cause of death. It must be stressed that SUDEP is a non-traumatic death for the person with epilepsy but the effect on his or her loved ones can be devastating.
Good self-care can significantly reduce risks of SUDEP in those with established epilepsy. This means:
Can certain things cause a seizure to start?
For most people there is no single thing that triggers a seizure - it just happens. However, seizures may happen more often if a person gets very tired or hungry or forgets to take their medication. Commonly, people find that alcohol or getting over-stressed can bring on a seizure but no two people are alike and what affects one may have no affect on another.
About 3-5% of people who have epilepsy are photosensitive and may have a seizure in response to flickering lights e.g. strobe lights, or even the flickering of sunlight through trees.
In most cases, the family doctor will refer someone who is having seizures to a specialist for examination. To make the diagnosis of epilepsy, the doctor will need a careful medical history and as much information about what happened when the person had the seizure and what it looked like. A good eyewitness account is very important.
Usually, the person will be asked to undergo an Electroencephalogram (EEG). Sensors attached to the scalp can record the electrical activity in the brain, which can help the doctor decide whether or not the person has epilepsy.
If epilepsy is diagnosed, it is usually treated by a daily drug regime.
Some children who have certain types of epilepsy can grow out of the tendency to have seizures altogether.
Recent research has shown that, in many cases, once a person has been free of seizures for a few years, the epilepsy medication may be withdrawn, slowly, by the doctor and there is an excellent chance of the person remaining seizure free, without medication.
For some people, taking the medication is something that will have to be continued for many years and for some, existing medications do not completely control their seizures. Newer medications, which have recently appeared on the market, will hopefully, help to reduce this number.
For those who do not respond to the medication, surgery may be an option. If the abnormal activity causing the seizures is limited to a small area of the brain in the temporal lobe, it may be possible to eliminate or control the seizures by removing part of the brain in an operation called a temporal lobectomy.
Anyone being considered for surgical treatment will have to undergo a long series of investigations, which can take a considerable length of time. These will usually include long-term EEG recordings (including a stay in hospital), psychological assessment and brain scans.
Yes, provided the person has been free of seizures for one year and is certified fit to drive by a doctor.
Thanks to Epilepsy Ireland for providing content.
If a friend is very drunk they’re not going to be thinking straight. It’s up to you to make sure they get home safe and hopefully they’ll do the same for you if it’s ever needed!
Asking about one’s habits between the sheets can be a touchy subject for some young people, but we caught up with festival goers at Bundoran’s Sea Sessions to talk frankly about protecting their sexual health. Choosing to protect yourself and whoever you choose to sleep with is important at any time, but it can be particularly paramount at festivals for those who make the decision to have sex. We chatted with guys who had bought a box of ‘communal condoms’ to share, girls who weren’t intending to have sex this weekend and a group who were negative about girls carrying condoms. See what they all had to in the our sexual health video which will be up soon!
Having one day come across a statistic that 75% of college students have never had an STI test (National Student Survey 2014), I have since been trying to break the embarrassed silence that sometimes arises from talking about sexual health. A casual conversation about STI tests in my class one day had culminated in the logical inclusion from one of the guys that STI tests were subsidised in DIT. However, it had quickly been followed by the caveat that he did not know this from first-hand experience. Why is it that some of us are finally getting comfortable about discussing sex, yet we still have difficulty actually speaking about getting tested for sexually transmitted infections?
It’s a topic that I have often breached with my friends, and despite realising the importance of regular sexual health screenings, they had told me startling stories about the stigma they had faced getting tested sometimes even from medical staff. One of my friends who had simply gone in for reassurance that he was STI-free, had been greeted with, “did your girlfriend make you come in?” from a nurse in his university. Another had said she had two nurses make comments about the number of sexual partners she had had.
This was by no means the first time I had encountered stigma attached to maintaining sexual health. However, I still felt a bit shocked when one particular group of young men we interviewed seemed to be a little disgusted by the idea of a girl carrying condoms, at first joking that they were “sluts” but then pausing to say, “still at the same time, you’re thinking – Jesus!”. That being said, many groups we interviewed were supportive of the idea of young women carrying condoms, using terms such as “fair play” and “responsible”. Luckily, public opinion may be moving towards giving priority to sexual health over potentially damaging stigmas.
Protecting yourself from STIs and unwanted pregnancies is an issue, that if you do choose to become sexually active, matters immediately, as a particularly eye-opening study from UNICEF illustrates. During their first sexual experience 19% said they did not use a condom and 57% did not use birth control, and 62% had consumed alcohol beforehand. Importantly, certain sexually transmitted infections which can be asymptomatic, therefore go unnoticed and if untreated can lead to issues with fertility.
To find out more about sexually transmitted infections and where you can get free screenings, click here.
Being body conscious as a man is completely natural – but not really accepted by society. Where women can say “she’s so pretty” or “look at her figure”, men can’t really do the same for their male counterparts, without being slagged senseless! It’s not only women who notice other people’s good points – we all do.
We’re all conscious about our bodies. For men, we’re under pressure to go to the gym, bulk up, be tall and handsome, dress well, etc. It’s even more difficult nowadays – I know my dad and uncles, for example, would never care how they looked.
Here’s a few of the things I’d consider the biggest worries for guys.
We’re expected to be well kept, first of all. For some reason it’s okay to tell a guy he’s put on weight or needs to, it’s seen as banter. But it can actually make us pretty self-conscious. We’re not just under pressure to be trim but also toned. It works both ways. The media constantly complains about guys expecting girls to be skinny and blonde. How often do men hear “oh I love really toned arms”? More than you’d think.
Hair colour isn’t really a big deal for guys but the volume of hair and the hair style is. Nobody wants to go bald but for most (it affects up to 70% of men at some point in their lives) it’s a real possibility. Even when we have the hair, the style is really important. Personally, I’m quite lazy about getting haircuts so more often than not I’ve got pretty terrible looking hair. This gets comments which, I’m sure if I reciprocated to a female friend, I’d get looks of disgust.
Ah, height. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who doesn’t want to be more than six feet tall. Even though I’m average height (5’ 10”) I get slagged for being small. It’s not exactly something we can change, our height, so it’s not the nicest insecurity to have. Of course, it works both ways. I’m sure some guys have the opposite issue; where they feel too tall.
There’s a fine line here. Dress too well and you get abuse; don’t dress well enough and it’s hard to attract romantic attention. Generally, blending in with the crowd seems to be the safest option. Not one I recommend, but the safest.
These are just some of the things that affect the male body image, though there are loads more. The media focuses on the pressures on women; though we guys are under pressure too. I’m not one to lecture on it – I’ve as many insecurities as anyone – but I think the best advice is to be comfortable in who you are. Trying to cover up your insecurities only makes them more obvious. Embrace the extra few pounds, the lack of hair, the too tall/too small fiasco and anything else life throws at you!
As part of Men's Health Week we asked the male members of SpunOut to write something to mark the event. Here our Communications Officer Alan O' Mara talks about minding his mental health.
In May 2013 I went public about my experiences with depression and explained how I went from playing in the 2011 All-Ireland u21 final in Croke Park with Cavan to imagining dying, in a matter of months. I chose to share my story in hope that it would prove to other people out there feeling how I had felt that they are not alone. I wanted them to know that it is ok not to feel ok and that it is absolutely ok to ask for help.
It took me a long time to make sense out of the situation I found myself in but I can't tell you how grateful I am that my suicidal thought at that point was swiftly followed by the image of my parents crying at my funeral in our local church. It took me time, effort, thought and twice weekly trips to a counsellor for a number of months to fully accept that I was consumed by depression. But more importantly that spell taught me I can cope with it, manage it and live my life as my pursuit of happiness goes on.
I still have my bad days but it is really important to remember that there are good days too. My journey has made me far more self-aware and as time goes on my knowledge and understanding of my depression continues to grow. In the days, weeks, months and years since that pivotal moment I have met so many wonderful people as I travelled along an extremely enlightening path.
While I firmly believe that people are beginning to understand just how important our mental health is, we can and we must as a society keep up the education process and continue to raise awareness.
The SpunOut.ie #DitchTheMonkey campaign promoted positive mental health in a way this country has never seen before. The quality of the five videos, the subtlety of the message and the nuggets of information combined provides the viewer with simple advice that can help our daily lives. If you haven’t yet seen them yet, check them out www.spunout.ie/ditchthemonkey along with the free MiYo App – a handy tool that helps you track your physical and mental wellbeing.
I have also worked closely with Cycle Against Suicide over the past year and have seen first hand how they are helping to strip down some of the stigma and taboo associated with mental health. Equally impressive was the ‘We Wear More’ campaign launched by the Gaelic Players Association earlier this month that highlighted the fact that we all feel stresses and pressures in different ways and how wearing a county jersey does not make a player bulletproof.
That concept applies to everyone, especially to us men, as sometimes we ignore our problems because we feel we have to be strong and tough on the outside. However, we have feelings and emotions too. Sometimes they are happy, other occasions they are sad and that is perfectly ok. We worry about college, work, money, family, relationships and many other things that can affect our lives in different ways.
So, as it is Men’s Health Week let's make a conscious effort to talk about these concerns more regularly, to mind our mental health in particular and prevent problems from turning into bigger issues down the line. And if anyone reading this is currently residing in a dark place, know that you are not alone. Help is out there for you and the first step in beginning your recovery process is telling somebody that you are not ok.
Reach out to organisations like the Samaritans, you can free-phone on 116-123, or find that one person you trust, the person who if you won the lotto in the morning would be the very first person you would ring to share the news. We can do it lads. Lets talk during Men’s Health Week.
Don't be a statistic! Look after your health by going for regular health check ups. For more information on men's health check out www.spunout.ie/menshealth
It is currently men’s health week, and one topic that is extremely important but sometimes gets neglected is mental health. But what is it? In my opinion mental health means something different to every person. It is something we we deal with everyday with stress, workload, body image, self worth, relationships and our bank balance all mixed together.
Are we the generation that needs the most validation? In a world of social media where everyone feels they must put forward the best version of themselves. Likes, favourites, retweets, shares are now all part of our vocabulary. Profile picture changes, tweets, Instagram, Tinder all tools we use to seek this. What is the end goal? This blog is not an answer to these questions but rather a starting point in the discussion.
As men it is often said that it is harder for us to speak out about our feelings. How do we protect ourselves. It can be difficult to put ourselves out there as we feel we will be judged by our friends and it is often easier to keep the mouth shut and stick to the simple lad banter. Having the craic and slagging each other areall a part of every male friendship. But it can come to a stage where a person can feel the pressure of their problems building up, and feel they cannot share it for fear they will be mocked.
Troubles in life like work, college, sport, relationships can be a starting point. Being open about things can be a release but can also be a terrifying thing for a person to do. Making your problems public is not for everyone and we have to understand not everyone wants to discuss what is troubling them, but everyone has the right to be able to talk to someone who cares and will help them.
I feel we lack the proper education with regard to looking after our mental health. Too often people do not know where to go to seek advice or ask for help. Recent mental health awareness campaigns have shown that the country is hungry for a change of attitudes towards mental health. This is only a starting point. The GAA have been a great example in making strides towards a positive attitude. But it is not enough, education about mental health should be taught in schools from an early age.
When it comes to mental health the most underused tool is the KISS rule (Keep it simple stupid). If you are feeling down talk about it with someone you trust, if something works for you in regards to your health keep doing it, enjoy people's company, eat well and never forget everyone has problems and it does get better. Your health is your wealth, spend it wisely.
Don't be a statistic! Look after your health by going for regular health check ups. For more information on men's health check out www.spunout.ie/menshealth
This week is Men's Health week which runs from the 9th of June until the 15th. So you're prob wondering what all the fuss is about and why there is a week devoted specifically to men's health. Well you may not know it but
So why does this happen? Is it because men and women are so genetically different? In fact it’s got nothing to do with science, and more to do with the fact that men are much less likely to look after their health than women, and less likely to seek help when they need it, instead hoping the problem will go away itself.
The aim of Men’s Health Week is to encourage men to be aware of their own health and wellbeing, and to do something to look after it. So this week we are asking all you men out there to do something to look after your health. If you’re not sure where to start how about doing some of the things below.
Get a good night’s sleep
Missing out on those valuable Zzzz’s can have a big impact on your health. Not getting enough sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. It can also make you cranky and not much fun to be around. The good news is that it can be easily fixed. Check out our article on getting a good night’s sleep for more info.
Get your 5 a day
We’ve all heard it before but our body cannot function properly on a junk food diet, just like a car cannot run on dirty oil. Improving your energy levels could be as simple as increasing your fruit and veg intake each day. If you find it near impossible to prepare veg for dinner every evening- buy some frozen vegetables and keep them handy in the freezer. Grab an apple for your morning snack instead of that bag of crisps. Start small, and at the beginning try to at least have one or two pieces of fruit and veg a day. Slowly increase until you have something every day. Before you know it you’ll be up to your 5 a day and feeling full of energy.
Go for a regular NCT test
Make some time to book yourself in for a health check up with the doctor. Let them know that you want a routine checkup and don’t forget to get a regular STI screening, as many STI’s don’t have any symptoms.
Don’t forget about your mental health
Often when we think about our health, we tend to focus on our physical health and forget about our mental health. Our mental health is so important and can have a knock on negative affect on our physical health when we don’t look after it. If you feel like things at work, school or just every day life is getting you down, be sure to talk to someone about it before it becomes a problem. You can also check out our free app called MiYo which helps you track your wellbeing. You can download it for free here.
Check your balls
Testicular cancer is one of the leading cancers in young men aged 18-35. However, if this cancer is found early, then it can be treated successfully. One way of catching it early is to regularly examine your testicles (or balls) Take a few minutes to read our info on examining your balls as it could literally save your life.
Don't be a statistic! Look after your health by going for regular health check ups. For more information on men's health check out www.spunout.ie/menshealth
Personal safety is something we often take for granted. You never really expect any of these dark, dangerous situations you see on TV to actually happen. Sure, there are parts of your local area you avoid; maybe certain people you have been told from a young age to steer clear of.
Keeping out of trouble is naturally important. Both for your personal safety and your parents’ sanity! Here’s my story of one time I did not keep out of trouble…
I was on a night out in Dublin with a couple of friends. We’d been to the infamous Coppers (and, to be honest, I still love Coppers). I’d had a few drinks and wouldn’t say I was very drunk but I was definitely tipsy; I wasn’t at 100%. During the night, we ended up getting separated. I was staying with a friend out in Drumcondra so I started making my way back towards that direction. I was down Grafton Street when I realised my first mistake: I’d no money. I wasn’t working at the time and this night out was on borrowed funds which had gone on those few drinks and the tenner into Coppers.
Undeterred, I kept going. I mulled over my options. I could (a) do the smart thing and get a taxi to my friend’s house and wake her up to pay him and then pay her back or (b) the not-so-smart thing and walk. I chose the not-so-smart thing. Mistake number 2! Now, to some, the walk to Drumcondra from Dublin city centre might seem a bit ridiculous but I’d done it several times in groups or with friends and knew it wasn’t too far, so I set off.
It was the first time I’d done it alone though; so was trying to get directions on my phone (mistake 3 – using a smartphone in lonely, dodgy area). I came to an unfamiliar area and wasn’t sure whether to turn off or keep going so asked a guy walking past. On this occasion, this was mistake 4; though I didn’t realise. Once I found my way again, I crossed over into a residential area and started heading for the house. Then, I got mugged. Phone and wallet gone, fractured nose and a few cuts and bruises but in all honesty, it could’ve been a lot worse.
My dad had always (wisely) told me and my brother if we were ever attacked to just hand over our stuff – safety first. Material items aren’t as important. Instinct kicked in though and, cue mistake 5, I defended myself. I tried lashing out, which resulted in a few kicks to the face (hence the fractured nose) so I relinquished my belongings and he left.
Fast-forward a couple of hours and I’m back at my friend’s house, phoneless, penniless and fresh from the Garda station.
The point I want to make here is that though this situation wasn’t my fault, there were steps I could’ve taken to avoid it. What I’ve learned is these few tips:
Overall, be careful. It’s not very nice to be the victim of an attack and personal safety is so important, I can’t emphasise that enough. Obviously, you can’t hide away from the world to avoid things like this completely, but be mindful of things you can do to prevent them happening!