The Importance of Men’s Health Month: Breaking the Stigma Around Male Doctor’s Visit
“Walk it off.” “Wait and see if it gets better on its own.” “You don’t need to go to the doctor.”
These are just some of what men are told to do, or men tell themselves, to avoid seeing a doctor. In fact, a 2019 survey by the Cleveland Clinic found that 72% of men surveyed said they’d rather do household chores – like cleaning toilets – than go to the doctor.1
In honor of June being Men’s Health Awareness Month, let’s discuss how to break the stigma men have with doctor’s visits and the importance of keeping a healthy lifestyle.
What is Men’s Health Month?
Men’s Health Month is observed every year in June, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of men’s health and encouraging men to take care of their physical and mental well-being. This month serves as a timely reminder for men to prioritize their health and take necessary steps to prevent common health issues.
Another important aspect Men’s Health Month focuses on is breaking the stigma surrounding men’s health and doctor’s visits. This can be done is by educating men and their families about the importance of regular check-ups and early detection of potential health problems. Many men avoid going to the doctor due to various reasons, such as fear, embarrassment or the belief that they are invincible. This reluctance can result in late diagnosis and treatment of serious health issues, which could have otherwise been prevented or managed more effectively if addressed earlier.
Men’s Health Month is an opportunity for men to take charge of their health and make a commitment to change their habits for the better. By understanding the significance of this month and participating in various activities, men can become more aware of the health challenges they face and learn how to tackle them head on.
Common Men’s Health Issues and Concerns
There are several common health issues that men face throughout their lives, some of which are unique to men, while others affect both men and women. Some of the most prevalent men’s health issues include:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Lung cancer
- Mental health issues (depression and anxiety)
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death among men.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are major risk factors for heart disease. By adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet and avoiding tobacco products, men can significantly reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, and early detection is crucial for successful treatment. Routine screening for prostate cancer, including a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam, is recommended for men starting at age 50, or earlier for those with a family history of the disease. Testicular cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer, but it is the most common cancer in men aged 15-35.
Regular self-examinations and prompt medical attention to any changes in the testicles can help with early detection and treatment.
Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, affect millions of men worldwide. Unfortunately, men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health concerns due to the stigma associated with these issues.
The Stigma Surrounding Men’s Health and Doctor’s Visits
The stigma surrounding men’s health and doctor’s visits is a significant barrier to men taking charge of their well-being. Men who self-reported traditional views on masculinity are less likely to seek health care on a consistent basis, according to studies from Harvard and Rutgers Universities.2
Society often portrays men as strong and self-reliant, which can create an expectation that they should be able to handle their health issues on their own.
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This mindset can lead to men feeling embarrassed or ashamed to seek medical help, even when they are experiencing serious symptoms. This leads into another factor stopping men from doctor’s visits – what potential health issue will be found during the exam. The fear of diagnosis is enough to stop men from scheduling annual exams, opting for an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach, even when symptoms are painful. This reluctance to seek help and support can result in men suffering in silence, and their health issues becoming more severe over time.
Another aspect of the stigma surrounding men’s health is the perception that certain medical procedures, such as prostate exams, are embarrassing or emasculating. This fear can prevent men from seeking necessary screenings and tests, which could ultimately save their lives.
Benefits of Regular Check-Ups for Men
Regular check-ups for men are crucial in detecting, preventing, and managing various health issues. By visiting a healthcare professional on a routine basis, men can ensure that they are staying on top of their health and addressing any concerns before they become more serious.
One of the main benefits of regular check-ups is early detection of serious health problems, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Early detection enables doctors to treat these conditions more effectively, improving the chances of a positive outcome.
Routine check-ups also help men maintain a healthy weight, manage chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure and ensure that they are up to date with vaccinations and screenings. Additionally, these visits provide an opportunity for men to discuss any emotional or mental health concerns with their healthcare provider.
In the long run, regular check-ups can lead to a longer, healthier life for men and can also save on healthcare costs by avoiding more expensive treatments for advanced health issues.
Tips for Men to Take Charge of Their Health
There are several ways that men can take charge of their health during Men’s Health Month and beyond. Here are some tips to help men prioritize their well-being and live a healthier lifestyle:
- Schedule regular check-ups
Make a commitment to visit your healthcare provider for routine check-ups and screenings, even if you feel healthy. These visits can help detect potential health issues early and ensure that you are staying on top of your overall well-being.
- Know your family history
Understanding your family’s health history can help you identify any genetic risk factors and take appropriate preventive measures.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. These habits can significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases and improve your overall quality of life.
- Pay attention to your mental health
Don’t hesitate to seek help if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns. Talking to a professional can provide you with the support and guidance you need to manage these issues.
- Be proactive about your health
Don’t wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical advice. If you have concerns or notice any changes in your body, consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Encouraging Open Conversation About Men’s Health Issues
Breaking the stigma around men’s health issues starts with open conversation. Men should be encouraged to discuss their health concerns with their friends, family members and healthcare providers without fear of judgment or ridicule.
By normalizing these conversations, men can feel more comfortable seeking help and support when they need it. Creating a safe and supportive environment for men to share their experiences and concerns is crucial in breaking down the barriers that prevent them from seeking help.
Supporting Men’s Mental Health During Men’s Health Month
Mental health is a critical aspect of men’s health that is often overlooked. Men’s Health Month is an opportunity to shine a light on the mental health challenges that men face and encourage them to seek help when needed.
By raising awareness about mental health issues and promoting resources and support services, Men’s Health Month can help men feel more comfortable discussing their emotional well-being and seeking help when necessary.
One way to support men’s mental health during Men’s Health Month is to share information about mental health resources, such as helplines, support groups, and counseling services. Encouraging men to reach out to these services when they are in need can make a significant difference in their overall well-being.
Another important aspect of supporting men’s mental health is raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. This knowledge can help men recognize when they or someone they know may be struggling and take appropriate action.
Men’s Health Month serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of men’s health and the need to break the stigma surrounding men’s health issues and doctor’s visits. By raising awareness about common health concerns, encouraging regular check-ups, and promoting open conversations, we can help men take charge of their health and live longer, healthier lives.
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Denise Austin, 65, Ensurem Ambassador
Best-Selling Author, Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine
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