If you despise the thought of stepping foot into a doctor’s office, you’re far from alone – especially if you’re a man. According to a study conducted by Men’s Health magazine, nearly 65% of men claim to not have a primary care doctor whom they see on a regular basis. The American Academy of Family Physicians backs up these statistics, citing that 79% of men in the United States visit the doctor only when they’re sick. Forget the annual checkup, routine blood work, or repeat visit after an illness or injury: men, generally speaking, simply hate going to the doctor.
A number of studies related to men’s preferences toward medical care sought out the reasoning behind medical avoidance and why it differs so much from women’s preferences. Let’s take a look at the top three reasons men would rather not when it comes to scheduling a doctor’s appointment.
Stronger than Thou
A dangerous cultural script is repeated time and time again when it comes to men and healthcare, focused mainly on the traditional role of men as an apex of strength in social, romantic, and work environments alike. The stronger than thou dialogue runs rampant throughout men’s circles because it is widely perceived that without strength, men have no viable way to achieve status or respect among peers. Even though the societal norms are experiencing a slight shift away from conventional masculine traits as a necessary part of being a “real” man, individuals who cling to masculine beliefs far outweigh those who do not.
A recent study revealed that men who hold tight to masculinity norms are far less likely to seek out medical attention when it is truly necessary, laying fertile ground for complications that could have otherwise been avoided. A representative from a UK-based firm of medical negligence specialists explains that the potential for misdiagnosis and unnecessary or incorrect treatment plans are incredibly likely when the patient-provider relationship is not built on the roots of honesty and trust. When men avoid the doctor because they think they’ll be perceived as weak for going, there is no opportunity to build the necessary foundation of openness with their doctor. Serious, ongoing medical conditions can result from misdiagnosis or the wrong course of treatment, leaving patients with little choice but to check their strength card at the door.
The majority of men cite embarrassment as a top reason behind avoiding doctor visits, either due to a lack of understanding about the severity of symptoms or the discomfort associated with the disclosure of certain intimate details of their lives. We get it – talking to a stranger about your sexual history, that questionable mark on your skin, or your family medical background can be awkward in the moment. However, failing to give up the goods on your lifestyle or history can be detrimental to your health.
A visit with your doctor doesn’t have to be an embarrassing task, especially when you think about the results of leaving out critical information. If you “forget” to inform your provider of certain symptoms, or tell a little white lie to save your ego, you’re setting yourself up for serious complications down the road. Letting certain health risks go unchecked for a prolonged period of time means you may miss the boat when it comes to getting accurate, timely treatment. Trust that your doctor isn’t sharing your health secrets around the proverbial water cooler (they are upheld to a high standard of confidentiality and privacy by law), and divulge the information necessary to get you back to an optimal level of well-being.
“I Feel Fine!”
Another common reason men avoid the doctor comes down to perceived need. When you feel like you’re doing the right things – eating well, exercising regularly, and minding your stress levels – why in the world would a doctor’s visit be necessary? Well, even when you’re on the right path toward health, medical conditions can sneak up without warning and without noticeable symptoms.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are far more likely to be hospitalized for serious conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, complications with diabetes, and pneumonia. Symptoms of these common ailments go unnoticed all too often, which makes it necessary to get a check up every now and again. Early detection of common but silent medical conditions helps in obtaining timely treatment and ultimately a lower chance of hospitalization or serious complications down the road.
It’s probably safe to say that not many people – men or women – enjoy a visit to the doctor’s office. However, making medical care a component of your routine is necessary to ensure youlive the best life possible. Ditch the masculinity façade, open up during appointments, and schedule routine physicals to avoid compromising your health now and in the future.