A recent study by Cleveland Clinic highlighted the fact that there is a gender gap when it comes to medical care. Of the men they surveyed, 65 percent said they avoid going to the doctor as long as possible. Seventy-two percent said they’d rather do household chores, like cleaning toilets, than visit a doctor.
It’s well known that early detection, treatment, and prevention of any condition usually leads to a more favorable outcome, but men see doctors way less compared to women. Why do men put themselves at higher risk by avoiding medical care or withholding the truth from their physicians?
Even after accidents, some men must be convinced by family members or paramedics to go to a hospital. A few theories suggest men are reluctant to seek treatment due to fear, assuming things will get better on their own, or superhero syndrome.
Fear of the Unknown
Many men cite fear of diagnosis as a significant reason they avoid doctors. In a 2016 survey, more than 20 percent of male respondents said fear of finding out what could be wrong was a roadblock to scheduling an annual exam. Unfortunately, this misguided aversion to being proactive about their health is contributing to the very things they fear most—illness and even death.
Delaying medical care could have dire consequences for some because there’s a risk of missing early warning signs of a severe condition. Pre-diabetes and other chronic diseases often have silent symptoms that only a doctor would recognize.
Things Will Improve on Their Own
Rather than seeking medical attention, men tend to get most of their support for health concerns from their female partners. Unless their partner is a medical professional, this isn’t the best strategy.
Men also tend to wait until there’s a specific problem they feel they can no longer handle on their own before seeking care. Most don’t visit doctors regarding general health concerns. While many say not having time is a factor, ignoring symptoms is a dangerous habit.
He Wants to Be a Superhero
In addition to having an uncanny sense of immunity and immortality, men also like to be in control. When put in situations that are beyond their expertise or comfort zone, the feeling of vulnerability is unbearable for some.
Cultural mores have led some men to believe they’re weak if they seek help for anything. Traditional views on masculinity support the belief that men should be strong and self-reliant. Add to that the notion that men shouldn’t show emotion, and you have a recipe for anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders on top of physical ailments.
Being Proactive Is Best
Waiting until symptoms become acutely painful or otherwise unavoidable is not a good health strategy. Men should meet with their primary care doctors to create a checkup schedule tailored to their health and lifestyle. It’s one of many reasons having a relationship with a primary care physician is vitally important. Your doctor can create an individualized plan with you to keep you on the path to good health and avoid serious problems like hypertension, heart attack, or strokes down the line.