Acknowledge Men’s Health Month by encouraging the man in your life to get his annual checkup.
By Dr. Gina Lynem
Whether it is your husband, father or son, if the man in your life is reluctant to see a doctor, he’s like many men who avoid regular checkups. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that men are 24 percent less likely than women to visit the doctor annually. Often, men view doctors’ visits as a waste of time if they aren’t sick or exhibiting symptoms. However, regularly seeing a primary care doctor can save time, money and possibly, even a life. That’s why June’s Men’s Health Month serves as a great time to remind guys of the importance of maintained health.
A recent survey commissioned by the Orlando Health hospital system found there are a few main elements that keep men from going to the doctor. Some of these include:
Fear of the Unknown
When returning to a doctor after a long period of time, there may be some concern regarding the outcome, including what the doctor may look for, find and even what kind of tests will be performed. In some cases, they may have had a bad childhood experience with a doctor that has kept them from going back as an adult. To help support your loved one, approach the situation logically, and let him know what he can expect. Try using online checklists and tools that can take the guessing game out of annual checkups.
Concern Over Pain or Discomfort
The potential for pain and discomfort associated with doctor visits can act as a deterrent to regular health care. Before an appointment, it’s helpful to conduct some light research, or even call the doctor’s office to walk through a routine checkup appointment. The office can typically explain what kind of procedures may be recommended in addition to how each test is performed. This can help him prepare for anything that might be uncomfortable or slightly painful like getting shots or having blood drawn.
Scheduling a doctor appointment can seem like a daunting task to some men who find the process inconvenient or a hassle and consequently, do not want to do it. To make the process easier, try scheduling an appointment time that works for both of you, so you can be there to support him. Many offices use online scheduling, so you can easily check available dates and times and plan ahead.
Recent changes in health care have caused a lot of confusion and may contribute to reluctance to seek ongoing care. Contact your health care provider for specific plan information to avoid surprise costs at the doctor’s office. Reading through your health plan coverage can help you determine what is covered and where additional costs may be incurred. Questions about coverage should be addressed by your health care provider.
Men who do not have annual checkups are more likely to experience high cholesterol, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, heart problems and obesity. It’s important to remember some conditions, like hypertension, do not present symptoms right away. Regular visits with a primary care physician can significantly reduce these risks. Demonstrating healthy habits like exercise, a proper diet and self-checks can also go a long way in preventing serious health conditions.
Dr. Gina Lynem is a physician at Henry Ford Health System and physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.