It's no secret that men are less likely to go to the doctor than women. In fact, many men view going to the doctor as a sign of weakness. This couldn't be further from the truth. Your health should always be your top priority, whether you’re a man or woman. If you are not taking care of yourself, you're only putting yourself at risk.
It is a well-known fact that men, on average, have a much lower life expectancy than women. According to a study conducted on life expectancy using data from health agencies such as the CDC, men have a much lower life expectancy than women globally, including in the U.S.(1). The results indicate the sizeable gender disparity present in the modern-day healthcare field.
The most significant factor that comes into play for the lack of healthcare provider contact is reluctance. Data demonstrates that men do not contemplate visiting their provider until their condition has progressed considerably2. Take melanoma as an example; the mortality rate for men is nearly 50% higher even though the incidence of the cancer is 50% lower in comparison to women.
Lack of awareness has been a detrimental contributor to men’s health decline. Because men associate having a condition or illness with weakness, they are less likely to face the reality of their health. Also, men have a much less well-knitted connection with their peers. Women are more likely to discuss circumstances in their lives, including health conditions and associated issues, with their peers. In this process, they receive external feedback and affirmation. However, in men, colleagues are not asked for advice for fear of looking weak or less masculine. According to an article on male isolation, men often feel that being alone is the only ‘safe’ way to deal with their difficulties, including health issues3.
Men are more vulnerable to certain chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, due to a number of socio-cultural and biological factors. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of all ethnicities in the United States4. Unfortunately, testosterone in men also predisposes them to having cardiovascular diseases. Testosterone reduces the good cholesterol levels and increases bad cholesterol levels (estrogen in women in counter protective). In regards to diabetes, a study in 2009 showed that 41% of men over the age of 60 were astonishingly still undiagnosed with the condition5.
For one thing, men tend to be less motivated than women when it comes to taking care of their health. With fewer men seeking medical attention for seemingly minor symptoms and getting regular check-ups, it is not surprising that men develop serious health problems that could have been prevented or treated earlier. Additionally, many men suffer from stress and have unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking and drinking, both of which contribute to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
When it comes to men's health, many people tend to focus only on conditions like heart disease and diabetes. At the same time, men must also take care of their sexual health, which is sadly often overlooked. This is a critical consideration for men of all ages and backgrounds, as sexual health can affect the quality of life in many ways.
For example, men with sexual health issues may experience feelings of shame and embarrassment, reduced confidence in their bodies, and lower satisfaction with romantic relationships. This, in return, may demotivate the general male population from seeking out medical attention they otherwise need.
Coming to neoplasms, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. It is essential to talk to your doctor about prostate cancer because it can be hard to detect in its early stages. Prostate cancer usually grows slowly and may not cause any symptoms for years. In a recent study on prostate cancer incidence, it was found that distant-stage prostate cancer incidence has increased from 4% to 8% over the course of 14 years6. This is highly indicative of increased delayed healthcare intervention in men’s health.
Some men choose to watch and wait instead of starting treatment right away. Because prostate cancer may not cause any other symptoms for an extended period, preventive care is vital for men.
While erectile dysfunction is often thought of as a problem that only affects older men, it also effects middle aged men. The truth is that it can be caused by a variety of factors, including lifestyle choices and mental conditions. For example, men who smoke or drink excessively are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than those who don't, as are men who are overweight or have diabetes. Mental health conditions like depression are also common in men which may also lead to erectile dysfunction in an early age. Fortunately, there are ways to treat low testosterone and erectile dysfunction by taking a preventive approach and seeking medical attention promptly.
Lastly, your general practitioner can help you assess your risks for various health conditions and diseases and provide guidance on how to make lifestyle changes to improve your health. For example, if you're a man over the age of 50, your doctor may regularly recommend that you get screened for prostate cancer. Or, if you're overweight, your doctor may recommend making changes to your diet and exercise routine.
As is with everything good, it's never too late to improve your health. Even if you haven't been to the doctor in years, it's crucial to make an appointment and get a check-up. Health does not prefer one gender over the other and most definitely does not make you less manly to care. It’s time for us men to be in charge of our health to start living the quality of life we deserve.
- Pinkhasov RM, Shteynshlyuger A, Hakimian P, Lindsay GK, Samadi DB, Shabsigh R. Are men shortchanged on health? Perspective on life expectancy, morbidity, and mortality in men and women in the United States. International Journal of Clinical Practice. 2010;64(4):465-474. doi:10.1111/J.1742-1241.2009.02289.X
- Francome Colin. Improving men’s health. Published online 2000:262.
- Blake S, Blake M, Blake B. Biddulph: Moving goalposts: setting a training agenda... - Google Scholar. Published online 2001. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=Moving+goalposts:+setting+a+training+agenda+for+sexual+health+work+with+boys+and+young+men.&author=M+Biddulph&author=S+Blake&publication_year=2001&#d=gs_cit&t=1651297837337&u=%2Fscholar%3Fq%3Dinfo%3AsiACqJjgJCIJ%3Ascholar.google.com%2F%26output%3Dcite%26scirp%3D0%26hl%3Den
- Heron M. National Vital Statistics Reports Volume 65, Number 5 June 30, 2016 Deaths: Leading Causes for 2014. Published online 2016. Accessed April 29, 2022. https://www.cdc.
- Kim MJ, Rolland Y, Cepeda O, Gammack JK, Morley JE. Diabetes mellitus in older men. Aging Male. 2006;9(3):139-147. doi:10.1080/13685530600907977