Men and the Doctor
may not surprise you that a study by the Commonwealth Fund shows that men delay
getting healthcare even if there are warning signs that something is wrong. The
same study showed that 24 percent of men said they hadn’t seen a doctor in the
previous year, while only 8 percent of women said the same.
Men are usually pretty honest in saying they wait until
they feel real bad before they’ll go to the doctor. In a way, it goes along
with their personalities. Men seem not to like to admit they’re having a
problem. They like to be thought of as the ones who come up with solutions.
Aren’t women always wondering why men won’t ask for directions when
they’re lost? Going to a professional and admitting something’s wrong
creates feelings of vulnerability that men appear to tolerate less well than
This reluctance to visit the doctor is not doing
men any favors in terms of their health:
Push in the Right Direction
have a life expectancy that’s six years less than women’s.
die of heart disease and chronic liver disease at twice the rate of women.
are four times more likely than women to commit suicide or die a violent
no absolute proof that more preventive care and more attention to early warning
signs could improve these statistics for men. But surely it couldn’t hurt. If
you’re a man reading this, maybe you’ll rethink your healthcare management.
Maybe you’ll consider getting regular preventive care and care for early
you’re a woman reading this, and there’s a man in your life, you can play a
role. Nobody’s saying it’s up to you to get your husband or partner to the
doctor. But if you’re interested in helping him maintain his health, here are
some things to keep in mind:
Some of the
conditions men should be aware of include
It’s the most common cancer among men, and African-American men are 50 times more likely to get it than Caucasian men. Prostate cancer can be detected as part of a routine physical by having a digital rectal exam or a blood test called a PSA.
This is the third most common cancer in the US. The American Cancer Society recommends
screening for colorectal cancer every five years starting at age 50. Those
in a higher risk group—which includes a family history of the disease,
sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diet high in animal fat—may be requested to
be tested earlier.
disease: Heart disease
can often produce no obvious symptoms, so it’s important to check blood
fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) and blood pressure regularly.
cancer: Men should
perform self-exams regularly, and have regular check-ups that include
These are just some of the reasons
men should have regular check-ups. They should be aware of the possible meaning
of certain symptoms as well:
Impotence:Erectile dysfunction can
be a symptom of depression, cancer and other illnesses. Any man who is having
trouble with impotence should see his doctor to determine the cause.
This can be a symptom of
heart disease, gallstones, or gastrointestinal reflux. Heartburn should be taken
seriously and evaluated by a physician.
Asking for help isn’t always easy.
For many women, going to the doctor is a matter of course, and doesn’t feel
like a weakness. Men, on the other hand, may benefit from a little push in the
Commonwealth Fund; Journal of Family Practice, February 2002; National Center
for Health Statistics; Kra, S. How to Keep Your Husband Alive, Lahbar-Freeman,