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Why Men Don’t Seek the Medical Help They Need

Men and women have biological differences, but it turns out it may be cultural and social differences that cause men to die earlier than women.

Men and women have biological differences, but it turns out it may be cultural and social differences that cause men to die earlier than women.

In general, American women live two to five years longer than men, according to the Social Security Administration, and one reason may be that men skip doctor visits. The social construct of masculinity plays a role, leading to men developing untreated and fatal health problems, according to researchers Mary S. Himmelstein and Diana T. Sanchez.

Masculinity

Sanchez and Himmelstein's research found when men visit doctors, they tend to prefer male doctors and are less honest about their overall health to male practitioners than female ones. The pressure to appear tough could be a detriment to men’s health when, for example, they ignore pain or other symptoms of health problems.

Discomfort

While women are encouraged to perform monthly breast exams and receive recommended mammograms, men are less likely to engage in the tests that provide an early diagnosis for prostate cancer.

These preventative tests include a painless, albeit likely uncomfortable, digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen blood test. Both tests are simple, but few men opt to take them, which can lead to undetected cases of prostate cancer and subsequent deaths.

Women take almost twice as many annual trips to the doctor as men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that’s factoring in the difference for women having prenatal visits during childbearing years. In fact, more than half of men haven't visited a doctor in the past year.

Busy schedules

The No. 1 reason men don't visit a doctor is they are too busy, according to an online survey commissioned by a hospital. Of course, that is a self-reported reason, so there may be other issues at play.

If men feel too busy to see a doctor, they could schedule a visit during a lunch break, so it doesn't cut into free time before or after work. Even making an appointment can be simple, with many offices offering online scheduling.

Fear

The second most common reason for skipping the doctor is fear of finding out something might be wrong. Unfortunately, that fear could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, as skipping medical checkups and procedures could create major health problems.

To alleviate fears about a disease that affects males, testicular cancer, do a monthly self-check of testicles for abnormal bumps or skin. When men feel in control of their health, they are more likely to visit the doctor and ask relevant questions.

Men are at risk

Men are at high risk for stress-related illnesses and, at the same time, do not use helpful coping mechanisms, such as stress-management classes. One of the top stress-related killers in the nation — stroke — is 30 percent more likely to happen to a man than a woman, according to Male Health Center.

When men visit doctors and hospitals only for emergencies, they can shorten their lifespan. Symptoms of discomfort and pain are not normal, and annual checkups and preventative exams can save lives.

Sinclair Broadcasting is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we’re introducing Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness and prevention.

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