Men and Health
Manhood seems to get in the way of men going to the doctor, even when they are in pain.
Young men, especially, seem to think they can "tough it out" or wait for their symptoms to subside. Men also seem to be wary of talking to their doctor about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraceptive options, and family planning.
These important issues should be as much a part of a young man's concern as it is a young woman's, said Ruth Buzi, M.S.W., Ph.D., assistant professor of the Baylor Population Program.
Annual appointments or check-ups are typical for women, and mothers are often the parent who takes the child to the doctor. Significant others and family members should encourage men to go to the doctor for routine physical exams. It is important they learn at an early age that going to the doctor should be a natural part of their life. Teaching young boys the importance of taking care of their bodies will be invaluable to them as they begin to plan for families and become sexually active, Buzi said.
"At the Teen Health Clinic, we realized to be successful in the prevention of STIs and untimely pregnancy we needed to give young men the same opportunities as women to learn how to take care of themselves and their families," said Buzi. "We want men to think about sexuality in a healthier way so we need to educate them not only about sexual health, but also about the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle."
The Teen Health Clinic educates young men on family planning including contraceptive options and untimely pregnancies. The Cullen Clinic caters to young men without health insurance, seeing these patients one day a week for any health problem or routine physical exam.
Health care workers should take special care when working with young men, said Buzi.
- Men have a tendency to deny feeling unwell or shrug it off with that well-worn phrase, "I will be alright."
- Men are less likely than women to disclose personal information.
- Like women, men too have specific health needs that require care and attention.
"Men have been raised to think they do not need to go to the doctor unless they are seriously injured. We must change this way of thinking," said Buzi. "Heart disease and lung and prostate cancer are the leading causes of death in men, both preventable diseases with proper screening."
Stroke, unintentional injuries, lung disease, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza, suicide, chronic liver disease, and kidney disease are also among the top killers. Mortality rates from these causes of death are higher for minority males because their diseases are at a more advanced stage at diagnosis and are often complicated by co-existing conditions.