Regular doctor’s visits help you to stay healthy – and they’ll also detect any issues that could lead to further complications.
Men are less healthy than women
It’s well known Australian men visit the doctor less than women. Yet not everyone is aware that men’s health is typically poorer than women’s health – a trend that’s prevalent across the Western world.
What’s also evident, according to a Harvard Health review article, is that men are more likely to die earlier than women – and this is because men tend to:
- take more risks – whether extreme sports or activities lacking in judgement (such as drink driving)
- work in risky occupations – combat, firefighting, construction work are male-dominated industries that offer more dangerous work
- are more likely to die from heart disease – this could be due to untreated health conditions, or to genetic reasons
- be larger than women – the Harvard researchers argued ‘large species’ tend to die younger than smaller ones
- be more at risk of suicide – possibly because men avoid seeking help for depression, despite more women generally suffering from depression
Men are also more likely to experience chronic diseases and conditions where early intervention and seeking help could potentially save lives.
Why don’t men go to the doctor?
There are a range of reasons, or theories, why men don’t visit the doctor as often as they perhaps should.
Speculation from both researchers and patient polls suggests men:
- have limited time – they’re too busy to make an appointment
- feel fear – they’re afraid of finding out what might be wrong
- feel uncomfortable – they’re worried about being asked personal questions, getting on the scales, not wanting to be naked under a gown
- don’t want to appear ‘weak’ – men may feel it is a sign of weakness to seek help – especially for a mental health condition
- feel invulnerable – teenagers in particular have a ‘no fear’ attitude and feel indestructible
- don’t feel the need – unlike women, who visit the doctor for menstrual, fertility, pregnancy and family, men often don’t have the same reasons
Men should visit the doctor more often
Researchers argue men should be seeing the doctor regularly (ie once per year) for health check-ups and screening tests.
Age-appropriate screening can also help to detect early-stage diseases like heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
If men can find a doctor they feel comfortable with, it can help to reduce some of the stigma surrounding visiting the doctor.
Honesty about the state of their health, and preventive check-ups, can help men to live healthier lives and catch any developing health issues before they become serious.
“Men should think about doctor’s clinics as safe, judgment-free places,” write Diana Sanchez and Mary Himmelstein in The Conversation.
“If a patient is worried a specific doctor might see them as less of a man after the patient discloses a problem, that doctor is probably not the doctor for that patient.”
Remember: ignoring symptoms often does more harm than good, and early intervention saves lives. Is it time you made an appointment?