Dr Douglas Street: Why do men fear doctor's visits?
It is no secret that men visit the doctor less than women. Many reasons have been put forward for this phenomenon. Let's look at some of the suggestions available.
Men visit the doctor about 20-30 per cent less often than women. Well, men are more likely to suffer from heart disease and strokes and live about seven years less, on average, than women. There are some who believe these two facts are related. Men tend to wait longer to visit the doctor and often are very ill by the time they do reach. They often wait longer to see if the problem will settle down on its own. Another interesting fact is that women are more likely to report that they have ill health even when they are healthy, but men are more likely to overestimate the state of their health. Men are also more likely to engage in behaviours that are detrimental to their health such as risky driving, smoking, excessive drinking, neglecting exercise and poor eating habits.
The main reason put forward as to why men visit the doctor less is the so-called male 'macho-ism'. It seems men see a doctor's visit as making them vulnerable, which is something men do not do very well but is more within the comfort zone of women. This probably is the reason men end up going when they are very sick and when they have got older.
men generally do not like talking
Another possible factor is that men generally do not like talking about their problems. They tend to find other less-healthy ways to deal with them, such as drinking, smoking etc. Women often talk about their health problems with their friends and are, therefore, more likely to get advice that would encourage them to seek medical attention.
Another factor that might make it easier for women to seek medical attention is that women are more likely to be used to going to a doctor's office. They usually are already used to going to the doctor's office, having to carry their children there for various reasons, for pregnancy, for Pap smears, which should start relatively early in a woman's life, or simply accompanying a friend, family member or partner.
It is significant to note that women play a very important role in encouraging ('nagging') men to go to the doctor. Interestingly, married men usually live longer, healthier lives than those who are single, so keep it up, ladies!