In the United States, there’s a culture of masculinity that expects men to be tough and infallible pretty much from childhood on. While this may be a point of pride for some, it doesn’t make you invincible. Despite that, men are less likely to go to the doctor than women. In fact, many men don’t like to talk about their health.
In a survey of more than 500 men between the ages of 18 and 70, more than half said they don’t talk about their health. While this is probably where the tough guy stereotypes come from, the idea that men can’t or shouldn’t talk about their health can have serious consequences. Some of the most common reasons men give for not going to the doctor are:
Though going to the doctor is yet another thing to pack into your schedule, it’s vital to make time. The chance of finding out something is wrong is always a concern, but staying on top of your health means you’re more likely to discover issues when they’re more treatable. And while exams may not always be the most comfortable experience, a little discomfort now is better than the discomfort of a serious illness down the road.
It’s important to break the cultural notion that men shouldn’t talk about their health. Here are some additional preventative measures you can take to guard your health.
The survey found that about 40% of men avoid going to the doctor until a problem becomes unbearable. Regular physicals and screenings likely mean you find any issues much sooner than you would if you skipped doctor visits.
Avoiding problems doesn’t make them go away. Where your health is concerned, this can often make them worse. Even if a topic is uncomfortable or embarrassing to talk about, you can and should bring it up with your doctor. Certain problems, such as erectile dysfunction, can even indicate larger health concerns.
Knowing your family history is important. This information can help you and your doctors understand any risks you have for certain diseases and illnesses. You should also know when to start getting screened for these illnesses. For example, doctors typically recommend men start getting screened for prostate cancer and colon or rectal cancer around age 50.
Throughout the year, you should also perform self-exams. These can help you detect any treatable problems.
If you already get Medicare benefits, Medicare covers a variety of screenings that help detect cancer early, when treatment is most effective. Medicare covers a number of colorectal cancer screenings, prostate cancer screenings. These are two of the most common cancers in men, so be sure to take advantage of these screenings. Plus, you’ll be helping to break the stigma around men caring for their health.
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