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Attention Men: Doctor Knows Best

Men who think they're too "macho" to seek medical help could end up making more trips to the doctor's office in the long run.

By waiting to see a physician, a man's problem may become more severe, requiring medical attention for a longer period of time.

Although the life-expectancy gap between men and women has shrunk, men still need to pay more attention to their bodies. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men tend to:

  • Smoke and drink more than women, and generally lead less healthy lifestyles

  • Not seek medical help as often as women

  • Join in fearless, risky, and dangerous behaviors more often than women

  • Largely define themselves by their work, which can be stressful and leading to problems in relationships, and at work

But a lot of men still seem reluctant to go to the doctor. Left untreated, conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can lead to complications that require hospitalization or repeated visits to a physician to monitor the health problem closely. Such chronic problems usually are detected early in men who see their physicians for regular checkups or minor illnesses.

Why men don't go to the doctor

There are several reasons men don't go to the doctor. Some of those include:

  • Men are often raised to ignore pain and show toughness

  • they may feel they can't afford to take time away from a demanding work and family schedule

  • Healthy young men are not encouraged to see a doctor regularly because few preventive exams or services are available for them

How to get your man to see the doctor

Encourage the man in your life to go for a checkup and get screening tests. There are several tests that are very important for men, including cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose tests, as well as prostate exams, blood tests, and colon cancer screenings.

If he seeks medical care for an illness, ask his doctor to take that opportunity to review and schedule the preventive screenings he needs.

You may also try sending him a postcard with photos of people he cares about on one side to remind him why he needs to take good care of himself. On the other side, let him know he's due for an appointment.

Spouses and other family members can discuss the benefits of routine physical exams and early detection of health problems.

Remind them that they aren't the only ones who will benefit. Boys can learn a lot from the example set by their fathers.