NWPC Blog

Why is a Man’s Life Expectancy 5 Years Less than a Woman’s?

The average male life expectancy is five years less than females.  Men are also two to four times more likely than women to pass away prematurely from unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide.  These are unfortunate statistics and are based on several complex reasons—both social and biological.  The good news—many of these negatively contributing factors may be reduced, especially with routine preventive medical visits.

Walking on the “wild” side

Men tend to walk a finer line between safety and danger than women do.  The “drive fast, take chances” adage summarizes the social side of men taking risks and living on the wild side.  Men tend to drive more recklessly and are involved in more auto accidents than females.  Want that motorcycle or fast car?  It’s ok, as long as you are aware of the potential for injury.  Focus on defensive driving techniques and eliminate distractions, including the use of cell phones.  One study found that cellphones quadruple a man’s accident risk, even hands-free.

Everything in Excess

Men are more likely to drink alcohol in excess, smoke more, and eat more indulgently than women.  These habits may lead to diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and other contributors to shortening a lifespan.  If you are a smoker, quit.  It’s the riskiest of all health habits, regardless of gender or age. If you want that milkshake or extra pint of beer, that’s alright, just don’t make a habit out of it. There’s a reason the saying is, “everything in moderation,”—it’s better for your health.

Mental Health

Depression affects 1 in 10 adults in the US and mental health issues, particularly depression, impact more men that previous estimated.  Symptoms are not always obvious to spot and in a culture where the mantras of “suck it up” and “no pain, no gain” are prevalent, symptoms may often be ignored.  “Men tend to express depression differently than women.  This can result in sleep disturbances, mood change, and sexual disinterest,” accordingly James Korman, PsyD, ACT, and director of the Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center at Summit Medical Group in New Jersey.  The single most important thing you can do if you think you might be depressed is to tell your doctor or a loved one.

Happy hearts

Coronary disease impacts more men than women and it is three times higher among men who are clinically depressed.  The female hormone estrogen provides women with a biological layer of protection that men don’t naturally possess.  A healthy diet, regular exercise, and quitting smoking will lessen your risk of coronary disease.  It is also imperative that you are honest with your doctor and report any possible early warning signs of coronary disease such as shortness of breath, fainting episodes, extreme fatigue, and changes in your extremities (e.g., pain, tingling, swelling, numbness).

The importance of preventive care

Men are less likely than women to attend preventive medical visits and on average men are 80% less likely than women to use a regular source of health care.  According to Katherine Krefft, PhD, “Men give lots of reasons why they avoid doctors, but some of the reasons they don’t give are deeply embedded socially and culturally.”

It is important for men to leave their egos at the door and schedule regular medical screenings.  Routine visits to doctors may diagnosis health concerns before they become irreversible.  It is also critical for male patients to speak candidly with their doctors, as many of their “embarrassing” symptoms—such as erectile dysfunction—can be linked to more serious medical issues like diabetes or coronary disease.  Additionally, with better health through prevention, adults are more productive and may earn more average income than those adults with preventable/treatable conditions.

Listen to your loved ones

Research has shown that men in relationships are more to seek preventive health care services because their partners encourage them to do so.  According to a survey, nearly 80% of men would go to a doctor if a spouse or significant other asked them to.  So listen up significant others—if you’re concerned about the man in your life’s health, simply asking them to go to the doctor may be enough to get them to.  And men, remember, when your loved ones nag you to go see your doctor, it’s for the best.

Northwest Primary Care offers a support and preventative medicine for both men and women.  We’re here to keep you happy and healthy for years to come.