A survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that just over 40% of men go to the doctor only when they fear they have a serious medical condition. The same survey also found that 19% of men admitted they go to the doctor so their significant other or loved one will stop nagging them. Overall health and wellness are crucial for longevity, but why are men so hesitant to visit the doctor?
Why men don’t visit the doctor
An online survey issued by the Orlando Health hospital system found that there are several reasons why men may be reluctant to visit the doctor for an annual exam:
- Too busy to go (22%)
- Afraid to find out what may be wrong (21%)
- Getting uncomfortable exams such as prostate or rectal (18%)
- Answering personal questions (8%)
- Getting on the scale for weight (7%)
- Not wanting to be naked under gown (7%)
- The exam rooms are cold (4%)
- Something else (9%)
While visiting the doctor may be uncomfortable, you can alleviate some of that discomfort by shopping around for a doctor that you get along well with. Take care of the “getting along well” part by reading online bios and asking friends and colleagues for recommendations. Double-check your decision at healthgrades.com
As for being too busy as a reason to not get a health exam? Routine physicals typically take one hour or less and occur once per year (this may vary by age). Consider sparing one hour each year to potentially eliminate the need for time consuming and extensive treatment or surgeries caused by a late diagnosis.
Ultimately, these are all simply excuses and not valid reasons not to see a doctor. Don’t wait.
The importance of preventive care
Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and make riskier, unhealthier choices. Men are also at higher risk for 8 out of the 10 top causes of death in the U.S. than women. But good news—there is an easy way to address this problem: men simply need to go to the doctor more often.
All doctors agree: prevention is key. Robert W. Brenner, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of the Preventive Medicine Program at New Jersey-based Summit Medical Group states, “…evidence-based preventive medicine is cost-effective and reduces the risk of illness and disease.” Think about preventative checkups as similar to taking cars in for routine maintenance. In order to keep the car running smoothly, certain maintenance measures need to be taken—from rotating tires, to oil changes. Annual physician checkups have the same concept. Exams check for overall health, provide routine health maintenance, and may identify underlying medical issues before they become difficult to treat.
Your health matters
That same Cleveland Clinic survey found that men also dislike discussing their health and medical concerns. In fact 53% of the men surveyed admitted that their health just isn’t something they talk about. If men remain reluctant to inquire about their health issues, then they should work hard towards following preventive measures.
It is recommended that men visit a physician at least once per year for an overall health screening. During these doctor visits, men should put their discomfort aside and be as open and honest with their doctor as possible. Tell the truth when your doctor asks health questions, learn how to complete monthly self-check exams, and do your due diligence to learn about common health conditions that impact men in similar age brackets. Perhaps one of the most important guidelines to men’s health, and anyone’s health for that matter, is to be proactive. If abnormal signs or symptoms appear, an early visit to the doctor could make the difference between a small issue turning into a big one.
How often you should visit the doctor
On average, routine physical exams should occur annually. The extent of the exams and types of tests done may vary based on age range.
In your 20s, doctors check blood pressure, height, weight, screen for testicular cancer, recommend cholesterol checks every five years, and may screen for sexually transmitted diseases.
In your 30s, your doctor will likely add to the above screenings, especially for hereditary conditions such as coronary heart disease. They may do vision screenings, an electrocardiogram to check for heart disease, and blood tests to screen for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anemia.
In your 40s, your doctor will add prostate cancer screenings to the exams. They will also likely check for diabetes every three years starting at the age of 45.
In your 50s, the list gets a little longer. Your doctor may start annually checking for Type II diabetes, depression, and lipid disorders. Depending on risk factors, your doctor may recommend screening for skin cancer, oral cancer, lung cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and alcohol abuse. Colon cancer screenings start at age 50.
In your 60s, your doctor may add screenings for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Colorectal screenings will continue, based on previous results. Your doctor may also begin screening you for osteoporosis.
In your 70s and beyond, your doctor will continue to monitor all above areas for overall wellness. They will continue colorectal screening based upon previous test results, with general screening until age 75. Screening is not recommended for those over the age of 85.
What are you waiting for?
Routine medical checkups are crucial for lasting health and wellness. Take the time to find a physician you trust and get an exam scheduled today!
Looking for a physician? As our patient at Northwest Primary Care, you will receive excellent care and attention from your primary care team, as well as the tools you need to take an active role in managing your healthcare.
View our infographic
Click on the image below to view the full-size graphic