In a 2014 survey by the CDC, men were half as likely to go to a doctor than women over a two-year period. Now, it wouldn’t be a big deal if men were half as likely to need medical attention, but that isn’t the case with men more likely than women to become ill or die at earlier ages. Many of the diseases and causes of death are treatable and preventable.
If you haven’t been to a doctor in the past couple years, but can afford it, you probably have your reasons (excuses) that are similar to lots of other guys. These excuses are endangering your health.
We often operate under the assumption that you’ll know if something is wrong with your health. But some of the most prevalent medical issues for Americans – high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and many cancers – only have mild symptoms, if any. By the time you feel unwell enough to decide to go to a doctor, what could have been a more easily treatable condition needs intensive, costly intervention.
From a lifestyle perspective, you’re much better off handling any conditions that may crop up while you still feel healthy so you can keep feeling healthy.
Doctor’s offices aren’t known for convenience. There’s checking your insurance if you even have it, taking time off of work, long wait times, fasting for blood tests, and more. It’s easy to feel like you’re going through a lot of effort for not a lot of feedback. Either you’re fine (see above) or you’re told the stuff you already know (stop smoking, eat more vegetables, exercise 30 minutes at day, etc.)
However, what’s more inconvenient than an annual doctor’s visit is becoming dangerously ill. You’re fine until you aren’t. And as for that stuff you already know, take charge of your health and ask for advice or referrals as to how to reach your goals.
Fear of bad news
It’s not rational, but very human, to avoid hearing bad news. Especially if you suspect something is wrong, but generally feel okay, it may seem easier to be blissfully unaware. But more than putting off the inevitable, avoiding the doctor because you know something is wrong has the potential to make things much worse.
We hear a lot about the rates of hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol, but less about the cumulative damage to blood vessels, nerves, and organs these conditions can cause. Letting health risks go unmanaged and undiagnosed is not maintaining the status quo, it’s making the decision to let things get worse.
Avoiding butt stuff
Prostate and colorectal cancers are among the three most common cancers for men, and while prostate cancer is usually slow growing and non-invasive, colorectal cancer is a killer. The screening processes may be awkward, but there are good reasons for them.
That said, if the only thing keeping you from regular check ups is avoiding butt stuff, I have a bit of news for you. You can just tell your doctor not to do it; they can’t force you.
Now, if you have a family history with these cancers or are experiencing symptoms, you are much better off being uncomfortable for a little bit than dead. But if you think you have high blood pressure, don’t put off getting it checked out because you’re due for a colonoscopy.