Does the thought of talking to your GP about any of these send shivers down your spine? Well, you’re not alone.
Our recent research revealed that nearly one in four men (23%) in 2021 will avoid speaking to medical professionals because of embarrassment around their health issue. A quick straw poll of the myGP team found that almost everyone had a story to share of a partner or relative who had delayed booking an appointment, preferring to instead ‘wait it out’.
This revelation was the spark that inspired the Shameless Cycle. Reluctance to speak to GPs has led to men’s health trailing women’s, and it was time to end the cycle of embarrassment men felt discussing their health. With Men’s Health Week just around the corner, it was the perfect time to help men finally kick their own health into gear.
For the Shameless Cycle to be a success, we knew we would have to pull together a team which would relate to men across the UK. Our final 12-man strong dream team included NHS Doctors, TV personalities, a film director, a Bollywood dancer, a boxing coach, a flight lieutenant in the RAF, an actor, a DJ, and social media stars.
Despite a thunderstorm threatening to join as the 13th member of the Shameless Cycle, the day went on without a hitch. The Shameless Cycle team wove their way through Soho and Piccadilly, catching the attention of all passers-by thanks to t-shirts which proudly proclaimed a number of health issues men would typically feel embarrassed to speak about, including: Limp and Leaking’, ‘Swole but Swollen’ and ‘Well Dressed but Stressed’.
Impromptu dance offs at Old Compton Road, serenading crowds on Regents St, and sharing informative flyers with bemused builders on Great Windmill St all built up to a surprise appearance from myGP’s CEO Tobias Alpsten, who gamely joined the team for the final leg of their cycle.
The real highlight of the day, however, was seeing just how willing the group were to discuss their own health concerns. Despite being strangers at the start of the morning, the Shameless Cycle team were quick to open up and discuss their own physical and mental health. It was a hopeful sign that, given the opportunity, genuine health conversations can take place between men.
myGP will be encouraging men across the UK to run their own Shameless Cycles with friends and family during Men’s Health Week 2022. Whether it’s an entire football team or simply a best mate, using the cycle as a chance to talk about health worries could make all the difference and encourage someone to make what may turn out to be a life-saving appointment.
Speaking after the cycle, myGP CEO Tobias Alpsten said: “We were so excited to launch this cycle, to have such fantastic support in its first year is incredible. We know that the health statistics against men are scary but, by encouraging open and honest conversations, alongside ease of access to GP services, we hope that we can start to turn these around. We hope that this cycle gathers more and more traction each year and I am exceedingly proud of the team for bringing this to fruition.”
The Shameless Cycle wouldn’t have been possible without the support of leading national and regional men’s charities. Quotes, advice and statistics from Prostate Cancer UK, Men’s Health Forum, Blue Ribbon Foundation, UK Men’s Sheds Association, ManKind, blOKes, It’s On the Ball, Baggy Trousers, and It’s In the Bag can be found here.