Thu | Oct 21, 2021

Protecting men's health

Published:Wednesday | June 16, 2021 | 12:09 AM

Men seek out medical help a lot less than women, which can have a huge impact on their health and longevity. There is a large amount of stigma and a sense of weakness and vulnerability that comes with seeking help rather than just seeing a doctor.

One possible explanation is that men are less proactive about their health and tend to avoid the doctor. However, this means men might miss the signs and symptoms of diseases that may be able to be prevented or managed at an earlier stage.

According to experts, the most effective way to reduce the stigma around men’s health is men talking to other men about their health. Women can also encourage the men in their lives to start the conversation by helping them keep up with medical appointments.

The month of June has been recognised as Men's Health Month. The reason for this designation is to bring awareness of preventable health issues and to encourage early detection and treatment of diseases prevalent in men.

The leading causes of death among men are: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, injuries, stroke

and HIV/AIDS.

Some of the reasons why men tend to have more serious chronic illnesses is because more men do not have health insurance, although men tend to have more physically demanding jobs with greater safety risks. Additionally, more men smoke than women, and they also tend to take greater risks with unsafe behaviour.

Women tend to live five years longer than men, and one of the reasons for this is that women usually take better care of their health. There is an old adage which says that if a man is in a doctor’s waiting room, most likely a woman brought him there for an examination.

Men are half as likely as women to go to the doctor over a two-year period, according to a 2014 survey data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They were also more than three times as likely to admit going more than five years without a visit. And finally, men were more than twice as likely to say they have never had contact with a doctor or health professional as an adult.

It seems simple, but if you are sick, see your doctor. According to the Health in Aging Foundation, 40 per cent of men said that when sick, they delay seeking medical care for a few days; and 17 per cent said they would wait at least a week.

Men also tend to exhibit a fear of diagnosis, as about 21 per cent of men admit to avoiding the doctor because they are too nervous to find out what might be wrong. It seems that the pressure to conceal weaknesses is so strong that it can even lead men into a state of denial, and again, this is a worrying statistic. However, ignoring your medical problems will not make them go away.

There is no doubt that men’s health issues deserve attention and men must be encouraged to continue seeking healthcare. The responsibility lies upon all of us to keep this necessary conversation going, even once June is over, because men’s health is always worthy of discussion.

Let’s break down the stigmas, embolden men to seek care, and continue to ensure that no patient falls through the cracks.

MEN’S HEALTH MONTH TIPS

• Make a commitment to have a health check-up.

• If you have recently had one and you are at risk, consider making changes to your lifestyle to improve your health.

• Talk to your physician about the steps to take.

• Talk to the men in your life about making an appointment for a check-up.

• Take a walk with your father, brother, husband, son, friend or co-worker.

• Cook up a healthy meal for the man in your life.

• Learn more about Men’s Health Month by participating in Wear BlueDay – the Friday before Father’s Day.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention