4 Reasons Men Avoid the Doctor – and Why They Shouldn’t
For most people, going to the doctor probably isn’t high on their list of fun things to do. But men, in particular, tend to avoid seeking out regular medical care.
Surveys have consistently shown that men are less likely than women to visit a physician. A Harris survey for Orlando Health showed a third of the men polled didn’t think they need an annual screening.
That needs to change.
Avoiding the doctor is a dangerous trait, and one that men need to be aware of if they want to safeguard their health.
Why Men Avoid the Doctor
Men give lots of reasons why they don’t have schedule regular doctor visits. Here are four of the most common ones:
- Fear of bad news. Men often worry that a symptom they’re experiencing might lead to a doomsday diagnosis, so they avoid thinking about it or consulting a doctor.
- Embarrassment. It can be hard for men to acknowledge to a doctor that they have a problem, particularly if it involves their ability to perform sexually or control their bladder.
- Stoicism. Admitting you have a medical issue might be seen (incorrectly) as a sign of weakness, and that doesn’t come easily to some men, in part because of societal norms.
- Overconfidence. The Orlando Health survey that found a third of men thought there was no need for annual health screenings also revealed that nearly two-thirds thought they were “naturally healthier” than other men.
When men do seek regular medical care, they may withhold information from their physician or even lie to them out of fear or embarrassment.
Avoiding the Doctor Can Be Dangerous
Many conditions or diseases respond better to treatment when they’re diagnosed early.
A doctor performing a colonoscopy, for example, can detect and remove polyps in the colon well before they become cancerous. And it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor to determine if prostate cancer screening is appropriate for you. When found early, prostate cancer may require a less aggressive treatment.
Doctors also are trained to spot suspicious skin lesions and can refer you to a dermatologist who can remove them before cancer develops.
Similarly, when detected early, high cholesterol and blood pressure can often be easily treated with medication before those conditions advance to the point of causing a heart attack or stroke.
Left untreated, however, these and other medical conditions can become debilitating or life threatening, especially for older men.
Overcoming Your Hesitation
It’s easy enough to say that men need to just man up and go to the doctor. For some men, however, it’s more complicated.
- If you have a father, spouse or partner who’s been avoiding a checkup, some gentle nagging -- let’s call it encouragement -- may be in order. Tell them the benefits of getting checked sooner than later. Remind them that they’re loved by people who want to see them stay healthy and happy for years to come.
- If you’re a man who has been putting off a visit to the doctor, do some reading on conditions that respond to treatment early, and what the consequences of inaction might lead to.
- Ask your friends which doctor they see. Get word-of-mouth recommendations for physicians they trust.
- Consider bringing someone with you to an appointment. A little support at a vulnerable moment might go a long way toward overcoming mental barriers.
Once you’ve gone to a physician, subsequent visits become easier, and that’s a habit you can live with for years to come.
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