If you believe the stereotype, getting a man to see his doctor is about as likely as getting him to ask for directions. Some doctors think men’s reluctance to seek medical help may partially explain why women live longer.
In a men’s health study commissioned by Esquire last year, 40 percent of men between the ages of 18 and 49 did not have a primary-care doctor. Nearly 34 percent had not seen a doctor in more than a year.
In a recent poll, only half of Sharecare newsletter subscribers said the men in their lives see the doctor as often as they should.
For men who forego regular checkups, the male ego may be getting in the way, according to Mehmet Oz, MD. Dr. Oz says men don’t frequent the doctor or bring up medical issues because they’re often too embarrassed and don’t want to be viewed as weak. Our Facebook fans also blamed stubbornness and fear.
Regardless of the reason, if you’re one of those men who don’t see their doctor often enough, it’s time to put aside your pride and man up. Seeing a doctor regularly can keep you alive and well—for yourself and for your family and friends.
Here are three times when you should get yourself into the doctor’s office.
1. If you suspect something’s wrong.
“Denial kills people!” says Kathleen Handal, MD. “If you’re ever unsure whether or not you’re ‘sick enough’ you can always call your primary care physician.” Be sure to describe your symptoms to the best of your ability, says Dr. Handal. “The doctor or nurse needs a complete picture of how your body is acting, so have the details of your problem mapped out.”
2. When you hit a certain age.
Prevention is the best medicine. Having regular tests at regular intervals is essential to a long, healthy life. Michael Roizen, MD, recommends that males start having yearly medical tests beginning at age 15. The older you get, the more important the tests become. At age 50, for example, most men should get a colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about other tests you may need, since recommendations change. (You may not need a PSA, for instance.) But you can’t talk to your doctor if you don’t go to see him.
3. Every one to five years for a physical.
Even if you feel good and have good health habits, a physical exam is still important. “So many diseases are silent—high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) or even cancers such as melanomas, breast, cervical, and colon cancer,” says Jill Grimes, MD. Oz recommends getting a physical every one to five years. “Some doctors recommend a comprehensive physical examination every year for men between the ages of 50 and 64; however, this is largely dependent on your health, risk for disease and family history,” says Oz.
Visiting your doctor regularly doesn’t guarantee a longer life, but it could help you spot health issues before they become major problems—and it will help you avoid being a stereotype.
Want to know what other health mistakes men make? Take our quiz and find out!
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