More men need to prioritize accessing care, experts say
It’s been a rough decade for men’s life expectancy. The average man’s life is now six years shorter than the average woman’s, according to 2021 data gathered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that gap has grown over the last 10 years. Obviously, it is important to understand why and learn how to address it.
There are many reasons, but an important one that public health officials point to is that men don't go to the doctor as often as women do. In a survey conducted by the CDC in 2018, they found that men were twice as likely as women to have no contact with a doctor in the past year. Almost one in four men (22.8%) reported not visiting a doctor at all.
So, why do men visit the doctor less frequently? According to The National Library of Medicine, there are norms in our society that affect men's willingness to go to the doctor regularly. For example:
- Men feel pressure to provide for their family, so they prioritize their family's financial needs over their own health concerns.
- Men believe they need to tough it out and only seek medical help when pain becomes severe and persistent.
- Some men lack trust in the medical profession, thinking that doctors might not be competent enough or make the right treatment decisions. They feel like they know better.
While these reasons can’t be easily dismissed, it's crucial to understand the importance of regular health care for men. Simply put, delaying a doctor’s visit until a disease has advanced makes it harder to treat and puts men at higher risk of mortality. This delay in care is part of the reason why U.S. men are at greater risk of dying from Covid-19, diabetes, cancer and suicide.
Being a man should not prevent you from living a long, healthy life. If you don't have a primary care physician, please find one. If you do but haven't seen them in the past year or two, it’s time to schedule a doctor’s visit today.