Stop Avoiding That Doctor’s Appointment

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on November 15, 2019
3 min read

Guys, make time to visit the doctor.

Four in five men say they make an effort to remain in good health for the benefit of their loved ones. Why, then, do nearly three-quarters of men prefer to scrub the toilet or do other chores than see a doctor for preventive care, such as annual checkups?

These stats from a national survey, conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and published last September, reconfirm past findings about men’s unwillingness to make routine doctor visits. “As long as they’re strong and healthy, they don’t see any reason,” says Cleveland Clinic urologist Frank Jevnikar, MD. But, he says, you shouldn’t wait until you become ill before establishing a relationship with a physician.

“Men in their 30s and 40s are mostly healthy, but those are the ages that you need to start thinking about preventive measures to keep yourself healthy as you age,” Jevnikar says. “Those are the times you need to be checking your blood pressure, checking cholesterol, and getting other simple screenings.”

Jevnikar says that a relationship with a doctor you trust may encourage you to be more open and forthright during appointments. About one in five men minimize the symptoms that bother them when speaking with a doctor. That may prevent the doctor from accurately diagnosing issues of concern.

Take erectile dysfunction (ED), for example. Many men, Jevnikar says, clam up when discussing issues below the belt. But ED can indicate other health issues that need to be addressed, including heart disease. Avoid the discussion, and you could delay treatment.

“Not every little thing means you have cancer or cardiovascular disease,” Jevnikar says, “but usually, anything that’s caught early will be easier to deal with than things that are allowed to progress or are caught late.”

Of course, some health issues do not cause noticeable symptoms. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, but you won’t know you have it unless you get a checkup. All the more reason to make doctor visits routine.

In the survey, men point to inconvenience as a primary barrier. Nearly two-thirds say they would see the doctor if appointments had less of an impact on their schedules. The Cleveland Clinic, as well as some other providers, have responded with solutions like expanded office hours and virtual visits, as well as appointment schedules with multiple specialists during the same visit.

But it’s up to men, Jevnikar says, to rethink their attitude about health care. “We all have busy lives, we all have obligations,” he says, “but if we can’t be healthy for the people who are counting on us, we are letting more people down than just ourselves.”

What should I bring to my appointment?

To be sure you don’t forget anything, bring a list of any symptoms you’d like to discuss as well as any questions and concerns you have.

Are you the right doctor for me?

Comfort and connection help build trust, so make sure you feel both with a doctor you expect to see on a regular basis.

Am I up to date on my screenings?

Your age, your family medical history, and other factors will determine your need for tests like a colonoscopy, which doctors perform to screen for colorectal cancer.

Do I need to make lifestyle changes?

Review your exercise routine, diet, weight, sleep, and other lifestyle factors to see where there’s room for improvement.

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