Men are notoriously bad at going to the doctor for help, even when they need it most. In 2019, the Cleveland Clinic surveyed 1,174 American males 18 years of age and older. What they found matched and even went beyond the stereotype.
About two-thirds of men tend to wait as long as possible to see their doctor if they have any health symptoms or an injury. In fact, going to the doctor is so unappealing that most men (72%) would rather do household chores, like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, than go to the doctor. This pattern starts at a young age, as 41% of men report being told as children that men don’t complain about health issues.
The truth is that regularly seeing a doctor can help men avoid common health issues, allowing them to work, help support their families and thrive throughout their lifetimes. Here are the top health issues men experience and why seeking care from a professional is worth it.
This blockage of the arteries is the leading cause of death in both men and women, but men tend to develop it earlier. The average age of death by cardiovascular disease in men is under 65; for women, the average is six years later. In cardiovascular disease, cholesterol plaques gradually block the arteries in the heart and brain. If a plaque becomes unstable, a blood clot forms, blocking the artery and causing a heart attack or stroke.
One of the main indicators of cardiovascular disease is cholesterol, which means if men don’t have their levels checked frequently, this condition can go unnoticed. Men can avoid a stroke or heart attack by getting their cholesterol checked every five years beginning at age 25. Once you’re aware of it, there’s a lot you can do to get yourself back to health.
Lung cancer is incredibly deadly – the leading cancer killer in men – but 90% of all cases are caused by one thing: tobacco. Lung cancer is hard to detect in its early stages, becoming difficult to slow once it is identified. Because of this, prevention is the best option for avoiding death by lung cancer. The best preventative measure is to stop smoking. And you might be surprised at the options your healthcare provider has to help you stop. From behavioral therapy to prescription medications, new tools to help you quit are emerging each year, and it’s not too late to stop.
This one is specific to men, affecting the walnut-sized gland behind the penis. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, developed by nearly 200,000 men each year. That said, it isn’t the most deadly; about one in 35 men die from prostate cancer.
While there’s no proven way to prevent prostate cancer, there are ways to better understand and reduce your risk. Your healthcare provider can help you assess risk factors like family history, age, and your eating habits. Starting at age 40, you should also receive yearly prostate cancer screenings in the form of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. These tests can help you identify any early signs of prostate cancer, even if you’re not yet experiencing any symptoms. As with any cancer, identifying it early will greatly increase your chances of survival.
Previously, depression was thought to be much more prevalent in women than in men. But we now know that men are much less likely to report feelings of depression, making it difficult to know just how many men suffer from this condition. For men, depression often looks different than you’d expect, resulting in alcoholism, over and undereating, as well as anger and aggression. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all men, and it’s even more common for young men.
Even when depression doesn’t lead to suicide, it can have significant effects on your quality of life and overall health. Depression can disturb sleep, appetite and energy levels, and even increase risk of heart disease. It’s important to meet with your healthcare provider before depression starts negatively affecting you and your loved ones. Your provider can recommend behavioral therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, or some combination of all three.
According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report from 2020, 14% of adult men have diabetes. In addition, 37.4% of adult men are prediabetic. Diabetes can cause heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. But this incredibly prevalent disease is also highly preventable, especially when men regularly visit their primary care provider. A healthcare provider can help you understand your risk factors, like smoking, inactivity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In most cases, simple lifestyle changes can greatly decrease men’s susceptibility to diabetes.
Talking about erectile dysfunction is, at the very least, awkward. When it comes to talking to doctors, 46% of men are most uncomfortable talking to their doctors about sex-related concerns, including erectile dysfunction. And while it may not be life-threatening, men with ED are more likely to be depressed, and ED can be an early indicator of cardiovascular disease. Not to mention, it can make intimacy a lot less enjoyable. And while it might feel embarrassing to bring up to your healthcare provider, know that it is incredibly common – studies show that between 30%-50% of men experience ED. More than likely, your healthcare provider has had this conversation many times before and knows how difficult it can be to bring up. But for the sake of your health and enjoyment of life, it’s worth it.
At Community Health Partners (CHP), our medical, dental and behavioral health providers are here to help men in Montana navigate these common health issues. It all starts with one simple, convenient appointment at one of our four community health clinics in Bozeman, Belgrade, Livingston and West Yellowstone. CHP offers healthcare services regardless of your ability to pay, so don’t hesitate to reach out, even if money is tight or you don’t have insurance. Call one of our clinics today to start taking control of your health.