The real reason men don’t like going to the doctor

The real reason men don’t like going to the doctor

It’s a well-known fact that women, in general, outlive men. Many experts have offered reasons why: men take more risks than women and perform more dangerous jobs; they smoke more, handle stress worse and succumb to heart disease – the leading cause of death – earlier. Survey data suggests another reason might be at play: men go to the doctor less often.

“Women continue to be health care consumers throughout their lives due to gynecological and, eventually, obstetric needs, whereas men stop seeing a doctor after their pediatrician and return only when they are sick” says Dr. William Rhoades, a geriatrician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

According to 2014 survey data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men were half as likely as women to go to the doctor over a 2-year period. They also were more likely to admit to both never having contact with a doctor and not visiting one within the last five years.

Some reasons men gave for not seeing a primary care physician included: being too busy to go, afraid to find out what might be wrong and undergoing uncomfortable exams in the past.

Some psychologists suggest another reason men may not be heading to the doctor: media messages. Men experience messages from the media constantly about masculinity and hiding their vulnerability. Going to a doctor’s office goes against many gender norms they’ve been taught. Consulting a physician about something they know nothing about takes away their control and may make them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable around someone they don’t know.

So what’s the solution? How do we encourage men to see their physicians more often?

“For many men, the answer may lie in the emphasis being placed on preventive health by insurers and employers. Savings on insurance premiums and being offered other health savings based on healthy lifestyle and preventive screenings may finally start to turn the tide for better men’s health,” Rhoades suggests.

These annual checkups can save lives. Although men may think they are perfectly healthy, there may be a lump or a bump that is unnoticeable to the naked eye.

How often should a man go to the doctor?

  • Men ages 18-39 should have their blood pressure checked every two years.
  • Men ages 45 and older should be screened for diabetes every three years, but if you are overweight, the screening should start at a younger age.
  • Men ages 35 and older should be screened for high cholesterol and heart disease prevention every five years.
  • Men ages 50-75 should be screened for colorectal cancer every five to ten years.
  • Men at every age should always get an annual checkup.

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Comments

5 Comments

  1. Michael J Allen June 23, 2016 at 11:10 am · Reply

    Conspicuous by its absence in the article’s guidelines is a recommendation on PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) testing. According to the American Urological Association, men aged 55-69 years should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of PSA testing.

    As a survivor of prostate cancer discovered as a result of an elevated PSA level and subsequently confirmed by a biopsy of my prostate, I think it is shortsighted not to have mentioned PSA testing in the above recommendations for men’s health. In my case, the cancer was determined to be stage 2A at the time of the biopsy, but had rapidly advanced to stage 2B in less than three months as determined by a post-surgical pathology report that was done after my prostatectomy.

    I am not sure I would be here to write this comment if not for the early detection of my cancer that began with an elevated PSA. However, I am quite sure that PSA testing should have been mentioned in the above article.

  2. What should one expect at annual routine physical? type of exam (what body systems are reviewed (eyes, ears, neck etc) and what tests should be preformed ( blood test, urine testing, EKG ) etc. Thank you.

  3. Reginald D Avent June 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm · Reply

    Thank you Michael J Allen for sharing your information about prostate cancer. the author of this article Kendall Schaffner , should take note of this information, it is very valuable and life saving. I have volunteered for non profit organizations that were cancer related.

  4. There have been so many articles about why men don’t go to the doctors, many with references to surveys as the basis for their conclusions. If you ask the wrong question, the answer you get will be useless. In this case, the elephant in the room is that many men are uncomfortable facing a sea of women for their intimate care. Even if they go to a male doctor, it is the nurses and techs that do most of the procedures and preps. It is a rarity for a urology practice to have even a single male nurse or tech. It can be very hard to find a male sonographer for a testicular ultrasound. Men are just not treated with the same level of respect and consideration as female patients.

    Many men can tell you about the day that their exposure was treated as a spectator sport, and that they now avoid medical care as a result.

    Men do own much of this however in that they are usually too embarrassed to speak up and instead just suffer in silence, and then don’t go back again.

  5. How about
    (1) the absurd expense
    (2) the play-acting pointless exams
    (3) the desperation to get you hooked on some drug to “medicalize” your existence, to wedge the greedy fingers of the pharmaceutical industry permanently in your wallet
    (4) the fact that most medical encounters yield no benefit
    (5) the dehumanizing dismissiveness and arrogance of almost all American doctors

    Maybe men just see through the medico-pharma-insurance scam a little more clearly?

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.