To all of the sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands out there…Happy International Men’s Day! When it comes to gender-specific health, women typically steal the spotlight. If you walk down the grocery aisle you might notice that the majority of magazines are geared towards woman’s well-being and there is an aisle wholly dedicated to feminine hygiene products. You have probably also noticed that women’s health issues are vocalized much more than those that impact men. It isn’t often that you see millions of people signing up for a marathon that supports prostate cancer like the infamous pink-ribboned breast cancer events. Nobody is at fault; women are typically more likely to openly discuss their health needs. It’s hard to be discreet about a menstrual cycle when you have to place a box of tampons in front of a whole line at the grocery store or try to hide a pregnancy. Unfortunately, men aren’t as open about their health needs, which often leaves them behind. In fact, surveys show that about 60% of men avoid seeing a doctor, even if they have a serious health issue.1 It’s time to face the music, men. We are exposing the three reasons you may be secretly avoiding seeing your doctor and why you should finally make that appointment.
- You have a Superman Complex
Like it sounds, a Superman Complex is the refusal to believe you could at some point not feel well. If you currently aren’t experiencing any major medical complications, it is hard to imagine that you could ever feel anything but great. The reality is that most of us are going to run into issues with our health, whether small or large. It’s a part of life. The good news is that prophylactic care is the best way to prevent disease before it occurs. You have the opportunity to make a difference for your future self by taking good care of your body. Diet, exercise, mental health, and lifestyle choices should all be part of the discussion when you visit your doctor. If it isn’t, it’s time to look for a new one that has experience in integrative care.
- You haven’t established a long-term relationship with a doctor
From a young age, most women have already have already established a relationship with a doctor. We are required to for multiple reasons, the primary one being birth control. Many providers also place limitations on writing a prescription for birth control; you may have to visit the office multiple times per year for checkup exams and lab work to continue receiving your prescription. It is less common to find a man that has a long-standing relationship with a doctor because they may not need to. Finding a primary health care provider is becoming increasingly important as drop in urgent care clinics pop up on street corners. It is much easier to make an appointment with somebody you are comfortable with and will hold you accountable for check-ups. Another advantage of having a primary care provider is the ability to get into appointments quickly. If you don’t have a doctor yet, it’s never too late to find one.
- Frankly put, you are nervous
You aren’t alone, we all are. Nobody enjoys paying a visit to their doctor. Waiting for test results is stressful, needles and the sight of blood is never enjoyable, and the sterile smell of waiting rooms is nauseating. It’s okay to be nervous and you should talk to your doctor about any fears or concerns you may have so they can better assist you during office visits or treatments. Doctors understand that a large amount of the patients they see don’t want to be there, and that is perfectly fine. Creating a relationship with your doctor is one of the best ways to combat your fear of making an appointment. Although it may seem counterintuitive, staying away from the doctor out of fear may actually be physically harmful. Dr. Romano, psychologist, nurse practitioner and assistant medical director at Delphi Behavioral Health says, “…it’s important to go to the doctor to reduce one’s anxiety, since living with high anxiety can actually result in something seriously going wrong, such as high blood pressure.” 2 There is no reason to hold back when you can take preventative measures for your health now. Lastly, if you are using Google as a self-diagnostic tool in place of a doctor, it’s time to turn off the computer.
Set an example
Set an example to the other men in your life that men’s health is important. Talk about health openly and don’t be hesitant to engage in conversation that may not normally be comfortable. The National Breast Cancer Foundation encourages women to be vocal about their bodies and unite together to pay attention to symptoms. In the same way, don’t keep “below the belt” (or above the belt) symptoms to yourself.
Make a positive habit
Instead of waiting around for something to arise, calm your mind and schedule your yearly physical. Not only does this reduce anxiety revolving around appointments, but it also requires you to prioritize your health ahead of time so you don’t let it slide.
Need an extra push?
Find an accountability partner. It could be your spouse, a sibling, or a friend. Make a point to encourage each other. Go pick up the phone and make that appointment!