Men’s Health Month comes around every June and you may be wondering: What exactly do men have to be worried about? Women’s health issues are often more well known in the general public, but men have a number of conditions that they are more predisposed for as well.
Unfortunately, men tend to know less about the signs and symptoms they should be looking out for. Men are also more likely to avoid going to the doctor, limiting their chances for preventive wellness. Although women have access to OB/GYNs and other speciality providers, men are often left wondering about where to turn when issues do arise.
It’s widely understood that women outlive men. But did you know that for all of the top ten causes of death, men die at a higher rate? That’s heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, accidents, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, suicide, kidney disease, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
Even more noteworthy is that the difference between the lifespan of men and women has only widened over recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that women now outlive men by five years on average, as opposed to just one year in the 1920s.
While it’s unlikely there is just one root cause to blame for this discrepancy, there have been numerous studies on the medical habits of men. More specifically, the tendency of men to visit doctors less frequently than their female counterparts. One Cleveland Clinic study reflects that 40% of men see a doctor only for serious health issues — never routine checkups.
Routine checkups are absolutely critical to early detection, and early detection serves to decrease the deadliness for a wide range of conditions. By waiting until acute symptoms start, men risk missing out on certain treatment options that are most effective in the first stages of a given disease.
To combat this, it’s recommended that men resume annual visits with medical professionals. Just one short visit can mean the difference in major — sometimes even lifesaving — medical discoveries.
Other ways to prevent many conditions from developing in the first place is focusing on improving your overall health. This means stopping smoking and limiting drinking, both behaviors that men are more likely to engage in. It also means increasing physical fitness and making more nutritious dietary choices, another area that studies show women excel in.
Even without a dedicated men’s health provider similar to OB/GYNs for women, care is widely available for men. Primary care is a great place to start, especially if it’s been a few years since your last visit. Your provider can run baseline tests on important metrics like cholesterol, blood pressure, and more.
For prostate-related issues that require specialty services, men can turn to a urology practice. Urologists can offer diagnosis and treatment for enlarged prostates and prostate cancer, as well as other issues like erectile dysfunction and low testosterone. You can even get a vasectomy done at these offices.
It’s important to note that mental health care should also be a key component of men’s health. Many men struggle with mental health issues and continue to suffer without professional support due to stigmatization. Psychologists have long observed this trend, even though seeking mental health care could make a big difference for men.
So if you’re a man, consider taking one step — however small — toward bettering your health today. And if you have a man in your life, support him along his journey (it might be more difficult than you realize).