Men die at higher rates than women for all of the leading causes of death. We know the reasons men give when surveyed about why they avoid the doctor: "I don't have the time; it's too expensive, I'm afraid of what I might find out, I'm fine." Here are the 10 reasons I think men stay away from the doctor. Correct me if I'm wrong.
1) You are afraid we will put our finger in your butt. We will, especially if you are over 40 or have any complaints related to your bowel movements. Yes, you get a rectal exam after the age of 40 once a year for a feel of your prostate and so we can check your stool for microscopic blood that you can't see.
2) You are afraid we will examine your balls. We will, if you are 40 or younger. The peak age for testicular cancer is 18-40 so guidelines recommend you get a once a year testicular exam. Don't worry it won't hurt at all.
3) I feel FINE. I am glad you feel fine, but you can feel FINE with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugars. Your mother or wife won't feel fine when they are taking care of you after you have a stroke. Don't wait until you feel awful to come see us.
4) Going to the Doctor is a chick thing. Many of you feel this way but remember we live longer than you. If doctor visits are a chick thing well, then, nursing homes are a guy thing. You have to get over this. It's true the waiting room magazines are not for guys but when you come see us you will see that many of the medical assistants, doctors, phlebotomists and medical records folks are men. Real men go to doctors.
5) You are embarrassed to talk about what's going on with you. The bright red blood on the toilet paper when you wipe, the red itchy rash in your groin and on your feet, the problems you have at times getting a boner, getting up at night a few times to pee, we hear it all the time. You are not alone and our job is to show you how common this is and help fix it for you.
6) You don't find the office hours convenient. I get this and urge you to find a doctor who is accessible and can work around your office hours. Seriously though, the average guy watches 16 hours of TV a week, you can come for a 30 minute visit once a year and maybe a couple follow up visits as needed.
7) Going to the Doctor is giving in to your nagging wife. I had a patient who gave his wife for her 20th anniversary a copy of his Lipitor prescription, thinking this was a GIFT to his wife that he was taking care of his medical issues. It is true, women rightly so nag their dads, brothers and husbands to go to the doctor because they are tired of square dancing with other women at the assisted living facilities.
8) You don't realize we are here for prevention. You don't have to be sick to come see us and if you establish a relationship with us you have easy access when you do get sick. Once a year we can touch base with you to discuss age appropriate screening which we KNOW helps you stay well.
9) You don't have a relationship with a physician. If you are not attached to a regular physician by the age of 40 you are more likely to get in trouble. Unlike woman who need annual pap smears and contraception, you haven't had to see someone regularly from the age of 18-30. Find someone your friends use or enlist your partners help to find someone that might be a connection. You want someone accessible and younger physicians are much more likely to email so look until you find the right match.
10) You think we will pick on you for your habits. Drinking a 12 pack on the weekends, not exercising and eating bad foods, among other things. These things are not as uncommon as you might expect. We will put you on a long leash and let you pick and choose the habits to get rid of as needed.
See you soon!