Men go to the doctor less often than women. They're twice as likely as women to wait more than two years between visits and three times likelier to not see a doctor in any given year. Meanwhile, a major study found that 42% of men will only go to the doctor if they fear they have a major health issue and that they're likelier to turn to their parents before a doctor when they suspect such a health issue.
The reasons for this discrepancy varied. Women used to visiting an OBGYN are already more inclined toward annual medical checkups. Moreover, men are more psychologically and socially predisposed to see avoidance of health care as a sign of strengthand self-reliance. Men are less comfortable discussing their health and seeking help, period.
Of course, reluctance to visit the doctor is not exclusive to men. Latrophobia — the fear of doctors — is surprisingly common. We fear the unknown, and every medical visit is an opportunity to learn something scary about our health status. There are also practical concerns pertaining to insurance and scheduling, the psychological burden of guilt over poor habits, and the technological trend toward Googling symptoms rather than visitng a medical professional.
The reasons people — and, in far greater numbers, men — give for avoiding a checkup are many. But the reason for getting past this reluctance is more important.
Prevention is essential to good long-term health.
It's critical to have regular consultations with a doctor to ensure you (1) know exactly what's going on with your health and (2) know how to improve it.
As June is Men's Health Month, we at EHE Health encourage men to visit a doctor and the women in their lives to help them move in that direction. Here are some recommendations.
1. Schedule a Morning Appointment
You'll have less time to build up anxiety over the course of the day.
2. Don't Google
It's the best way to deepen any fears you have about news you could receive.
3. Identify the Pain Points
Are you scared of needles? Afraid of a diagnosis? Worried about criticism? Figure out exactly what is stopping you from making an appointment, and then talk through that hurdle with the office.
4. Go with Someone
Bringing a supportive friend or family member to a stressful appointment can ease anxiety.
For encouraging men:
1. Focus on Positives
You’ll face less resistance when discussing health issues if you focus on positive actions that he is taking towards his health rather than what he is not doing.
2. Use Empowering Language
Avoid phrases and words that connect a lack of attention to health with helplessness. Instead, emphasize that seeking help is a demonstration of strength.
Inspire him to take necessary action by appealing to sentiments that motivate him — like being healthy for your children so that he can watch them grow older.
4. Work Together
Men often procrastinate when it comes to booking appointments or seeking advice. You can work with him to schedule an appropriate appointment. You can also provide him some necessary information on health-related concerns and what options are available to get help.
5. Don't Give Up
Most of all don’t just have one conversation as men have a way of forgetting what you said or ignoring your concerns. Leave small reminders and drop hints in regular conversations.