In general men are much healthier than women, right? Wrong! Life expectancy for a man in the United States is five years less than for a woman. Men are also three times less likely to visit the doctor. So if our health and life is on the line, then why is it that we (men) are so resistant to going to the doctor? As a man I understand that whole mentality of “why go to the doctor if you’re not sick?” or “I will just tough it out,” or “I am not going to go if you keep nagging me.” As a physician, however, I know this mentality is dangerous.
Let us change our thinking. We do routine maintenance on our cars in the form of oil changes and engine tune-ups in an effort to prevent breakdowns and make cars last longer. We make time for this type of maintenance because this means less costly repairs in the future. Isn't it time we viewed our own health the same way?
The fact is that many disease states have no symptoms until late stages. Heart disease, for example, is the number one killer in the United States, yet many of the risk factors have no symptoms. If you do not have routine exams, you may not know that you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or even diabetes - all of which are major risk factors for heart disease and require evaluation by a doctor. You know what, guys? These are the same risk factors for erectile dysfunction.
Similarly, even mild symptoms can be a sign that something is wrong. Urinary symptoms like increased frequency, urgency, or hesitancy are common complaints in men as they age. This can be sign of a benign condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or something more ominous like prostate cancer. Because both conditions present the same, distinguishing between the two requires physical exam and labs.
Bottom line: It is time to care for our health at least as well as we do our cars. Even if we maintain a healthy lifestyle, we are not immune to disease. Most disease is preventable or treatable if caught early. This requires the care of a physician. Let your doctor be your guide to a long and healthy life.