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What is Movember?

It's nearly that time of year again where moustaches sprout up on faces around the world - but why? It's all down to Movember, the movement that started with a moustache challenge for 30 men and grew into the fundraising giant of Men's Health Awareness Month.

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What does Movember involve?

Movember, also known as Men's Health Awareness Month, has come a long way since 2003, when friends Travis Garone and Luke Slattery decided to bring the moustache back into fashion by challenging 30 men to grow one.

The fundraising proved so successful that they decided to make it a yearly tradition, encourage as many men as possible to get growing, and put the money raised towards some of the biggest health issues facing men today - prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide.

Movember has since raised more than £400 million which has been used to fund more than 1,250 men's health projects around the globe. These have supported cancer research, training resources for medical staff, peer support communities, and e-learning tools, among many other ventures.

How have they done this? The Movember team have a few strategies:

  • They unite experts to collaborate on important projects.

  • They raise global awareness during November.

  • They create fundraising challenges for men to join that are achievable and fun.

  • They use this money to create new health and wellbeing services and fund research.

Why are the Movember causes so important?

For both medical and cultural reasons, men generally don't live as long as women. Movember exists to help men live longer and healthier lives.

For the fundraising money to have the biggest impact, the campaign focuses on three global health issues that are putting men in danger and need more research and improved services in healthcare.

Men's mental health

Worldwide, men account for 75% - 80% of all suicides1, and in the UK 12 men die by suicide every day2. The gap between male and female suicides is so large that male depression has been labelled a major health crisis.

A complex interplay of many factors contributes to this gender gap, including toxic masculinity, underlying illness, shame, loneliness, and alcohol use.

Black men are also far more likely to be diagnosed with serious mental health problems - and additional cultural barriers and systemic discrimination play a part here.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the UK, with more than 52,000 men diagnosed each year3. Overall, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Of those 52,000 people, 12,000 will die each year3 - but funding for research and health services can help save more lives. While some things that increase your chances of getting prostate cancer can't be helped - like family history, older age, and being black - knowledge of other factors you can change could lower your risk.

For example, staying fit and at a healthy weight4, as well as knowing what signs to look out for and getting tested for early detection.

Testicular cancer

Around the world, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among young men aged 15 to 45 years5. There are around 2,400 new cases in the UK each year - but the survival rate is much higher than prostate cancer6.

While 65 people lose their lives each year, the 5-year survival rate is 9 in 10 people5. There aren't many factors you can control to reduce your chances, but finding the problem early makes a big difference. It's important to get to know your testicles, check yourself regularly, and look out for other signs like testicle pain. Depending on how it's treated, your fertility may or may not be affected.

Patient picks for Prostate problems

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How can I get involved in Movember?

To help fundraise, sign up online or download the Movember app. You can then choose your challenge, set a fundraising target, and share your progress on social media to let the world know why you're doing it and encourage donations. Movember has three main challenges, and you can pick what most appeals to you.

  1. Grow a mo - grow a moustache for the 30 days of November. This is to raise awareness and show the world you care about men's health.

  2. Move for mental health - run or walk 60km in November, in one go or over the month. This is to commemorate the 60 men who kill themselves every hour worldwide.

  3. Host a mo-ment - host any event with friends that raises awareness and funds for men's health .

Or you can fundraise your own way - whether it's quitting a bad habit, taking on a dare, or climbing a mountain.

Proving that Movember fundraisers can be fun and unique, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive is an annual classic car motoring event where drivers and passengers from across 66 countries dress in a dapper style and drive to raise money for Movember. In 2023, they raised £378,000 ($422,000).

Visit our men's health hub for more health information and advice on the issues that matter to you.

Further reading

  1. Heads Up Guys: Stats on suicide in men.

  2. Mental Health Foundation: Men and mental health.

  3. Prostate Cancer UK: About prostate cancer.

  4. Wang et al: Prostate cancer incidence and mortality: global status and temporal trends in 89 countries from 2000 to 2019.

  5. Gaddam and Chesnut: Testicle cancer.

  6. Cancer Research UK: Testicular cancer statistics.

Article history

The information on this page is peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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