By Emily Wangen
No-Shave November is here, and the University of Iowa Urology Department is bringing attention to men’s health issues such as cancer with BeardUp.
Participants, whether they have facial hair or not, are encouraged to grow their best beard or mustache and submit photos by Dec. 1.
Members of the UI Department of Urology men’s health program will judge the facial hair and award trophies to the winners of the following categories; best beard or mustache, best group, best effort, and most original.
UIHC Associate Professor of urology Chad Tracy said the contest has existed for years, but only as an internal event in the department. The decision to expand to the Iowa City community came from discussions among department members.
Stephanie Moore, a secretary in the department, said the department had raised funds through the Movember campaign but noted there was not as much of a response.
Because of this, she wanted to do something different. Tracy said she was one of the main people behind the idea of bringing BeardUp to the public.
This year, along with the public competition, there will be a variety of events including a health fair with other departments geared toward men’s health and a silent auction to be held Nov. 27.
Moore said the silent auction has seen a large response through the number of donations coming from businesses and sport teams both local and from outside Iowa.
“The response that I have gotten from [donors] from donated items has been just amazing,” Moore said. “A lot of places have been extremely excited about this.”
UIHC urology resident Ryan Steinberg said this is a great way to bring light to a variety of men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancers, and to raise money to support research.
“It’s one thing to be a health-care provider doing these things, but it’s another thing when we can really bring the community into it,” Steinberg said. “The Iowa City area is a really incredible place in terms of having the university here and a lot of people who are interested in supporting these types of endeavors.”
Men’s health is an underappreciated part of society, Tracy said, and he believes men are less likely to see a doctor on a routine basis.
“Men have a lot of health problems,” Tracy said. “We have a life expectancy that’s at least five years less than our women counterparts, and there are a lot of things that affect men on a disproportionate level.”
The men’s health program at UI Hospitals and Clinics provides primary care, reproductive services, cancer care, and other services such as plastic surgery and the executive health program — a program that schedules medical examinations, testing, and screenings, including prostate exams for men, into one half-day appointment.
Steinberg said the move from the department-focused Movember to BeardUp is a positive change because it includes the whole hospital as well as the community.
“It’s one thing to do it by yourselves, but that only raises awareness to those who happen to come through our clinic or see us outside in the community,” Tracy said. “This way we can really get the word out a lot more effectively to other people throughout the community.”