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Man Up – And Visit Your Doctor!

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Women are higher users of the health care system. This is, in part, due to the need for care during the child bearing years but it’s also due to men being reluctant to visit the doctor.

It’s common for men in my practice to come for a periodic health visit and state that they came on the insistence of their partners.  Sometimes they’re not even sure why they’re there and are simply “following orders.” Men are at higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers. It is important that men visit their primary care practitioners in a timely and appropriate manner. That’s why it’s also important to understand the reasons for this reluctance.

Denial is one of the reasons men fail to visit their practitioners. The feeling that nothing can happen to them is part of a learned machismo. Being stoic is valued in our culture. It’s sadly the reason many worrisome diagnoses are delayed.

Fear of intervention and invasive examinations is another reason for the male approach to health care.  It is important to know that one has the right to decline any examination and visiting the doctor to consider the need for examination allows for, at the very least, informed decision making. Going and understanding does not always mean doing and probing.

One of the most difficult things for men in our society to do is to visit their practitioner for mental health concerns. Admitting to mental health difficulties has become equivalent to personal weakness in the collective male mind. Men tend to suffer more than women with silent mental health problems. They are more likely to complete suicide attempts.

It is time for a sea change to benefit the health of men. Manning up should mean paying attention to symptoms and visiting your practitioner instead of suffering in silence.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and proud grandmother of three! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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