Why Some Men Don’t Visit the Doctor (but really should!)
June is Men’s Health Month
, the purpose of which is to “heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” This may seem like a self-explanatory awareness month – we men know we’re supposed
to go visit our doctor regularly, especially as we get older and risks for many conditions and diseases increase.
So why the need for an awareness month? Well, some of the male species, it seems, won’t visit the doctor unless a limb is about to fall off. According to a 2011 study by the CDC
, 26% of males 18 and over had not been to a doctor or other health professional in a year or more (the number of women, at 13%, is half that amount).
There are several reasons men may not visit the doctor – but it’s crucial to staying healthy and can, in some instances, save your life.
One reason men may not visit the doctor is, technically, they feel
fine – so why bother? Unfortunately, feeling healthy is not always an indicator that you are
healthy. Heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol or blood pressure, and sexually transmitted diseases, to name a few, are all conditions that you can have without experiencing symptoms. However, to stay aware of your own health and to prevent potential life-threatening conditions, it’s important to check for all these things. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death.
Men may also forego doctor visits due to embarrassment – prostate exams or STD exams may be a bit on the awkward and uncomfortable side. However, doctors didn’t go to years of medical school and see hundreds (or thousands) of patients without growing used to the human body – this is just another day at the office for them. And, the minute or so of discomfort you may feel is preferable to having a serious condition that can affect your health, your sexuality, or the health and safety or others – so grit your teeth and bear it!
The final reason men may avoid doctors is the “Walk It Off” philosophy – society trains men not to complain or show pain and vulnerability. While this may work okay for a bruise or a minor cut, it’s not an excuse for pains that could be a symptom of something serious – chest pain, for example, can be a symptom of heart problems. Don’t think that ignoring it will make it go away – make an appointment!
We don’t want to shame you into visiting the doctor – but as an adult male, you should be taking responsibility for your health. An annual physical, and regular doctor visits when something is wrong, can help detect potential health issues and keep you on the right fitness track. Just think of it as routine maintenance on the most important vehicle you have – your body.