Why Men Don’t Go to the Doctor — and How to Change It

Why Men Don’t Go to the Doctor — and How to Change It

It may sound like a cliché, but this one is true: Men are far less likely to visit the doctor than women. While most men are willing to see a doctor when they are seriously ill or injured, the majority wait for several days or until they have no other option before making an appointment. But when it comes to routine checkups and preventive care, only about 35 percent of men make and keep their appointments.

There are a number of reasons that men decide to skip the trip to the doctor’s office. While lack of time or adequate insurance coverage are cited as reasons for not getting annual checkups, the belief that there is nothing wrong coupled with a fear that there actually is something wrong is the most common excuse men give for not seeing the doctor. According to one survey, a whopping 80 percent of men rate their health as excellent or very good — yet 28 percent of those same men were diagnosed with high blood pressure, 8 percent with heart disease and 13 percent with diabetes. These are all diseases that have few outwardly visible symptoms but can still be deadly without proper treatment with lifestyle changes and medication.

Some of the excuses men make for avoiding the doctor are easily overcome; after all, it’s now the law that one must carry health insurance and sites like Canada Drug Pharmacy make it easy to afford prescription medications. If your loved one still refuses to see the doctor, though, you may need to make a more compelling case. Nagging and coercion rarely work, so try some of these techniques

Let History Be Your Guide

The risk of many serious diseases, including cancer and diabetes, is increased markedly by family history. If your husband or partner has a family history of a certain condition, it’s vital that he see a doctor to evaluate his own risk and determine whether any early intervention or extra screening is necessary. In some cases, men are reluctant to see a doctor specifically because they have a family history — after all, there’s an increased likelihood that there actually will be a problem — but ignoring the risk will only make it worse. Remind him that going to the doctor to assess the risk now and to take care of any problems early on will prevent more serious problems, and even bigger issues, in the future.

Get Back Up

Chances are that you know a man who does go to the doctor for his regular checkups. Consider enlisting his help to convince your loved one to make his own appointment. Sometimes, just hearing that the annual physical isn’t that bad, and that the doctor isn’t going to lecture him too much about his habit of downing a Phily cheesesteak and a few beers while watching the game, is enough to get him to pick up the phone.

Appeal to His Priorities

Appeal to His Priorities

It might feel manipulative, but reminding your man what he has to lose if he doesn’t take care of his health could spur him to action. Gently remind him that you want him to be around for you and your children, or the plans you have for your retirement years. You might also remind him that he’s setting an example for those children; after all, if Daddy never goes to the doctor, why should they?

Make it Easy for Him

Some men don’t go to the doctor because it seems complicated — the process of finding someone within the insurance network, navigating paperwork and setting an appointment is just a pain in the neck. Do some of the legwork for him: Spend some time researching doctors in your area and present him with a list of those who are accepting patients and may be a good fit.

You might even try encouraging him to visit a health clinic, such as those in a pharmacy or retail store for a basic health screening. Even if he just gets a basic blood pressure or cholesterol screening while he’s picking up some toothpaste, it’s something — and might spur him to get a more comprehensive physical.

Some experts recommend making an appointment for him and telling him that he must cancel it himself if he opts not to go. This approach depends on your relationship: Some men may respond favorably to it, while others may bristle and be even less likely to see the doctor because they feel forced. Ask before you make the appointment, and offer to go with him if he wants. There’s a fine line between concerned partner and mother, so tread carefully before you do everything for him.

In the end, there are some men who will not respond to any of efforts to get them to a doctor. However, in most cases, reminding them that their health is important and that having information — and a treatment plan — will help them feel better and live longer is enough to get them to make (and keep) the dreaded appointment.