The healthcare gap between men and women is astonishing. Healthcare systems around the United States and world are moving towards preventative care and staying ahead of people's health and wellness. It is a slow process, though men are generally far more apprehensive to jump on the bandwagon.
Prevention starts with detection, which means screenings. Some are routine annual exams, many are covered by insurance, and others are offered at reduced rates. They are as simple as scheduling an appointment and showing up for a 5 minute blood draw. Nevertheless, according to a Harvard study, more than 50% of all men have not had a physical or cholesterol exam in the past year. 41% of men over age 50 have not been screened for prostate cancer, while 60% have not had a colon screening in the past year.
25% of men prefer to wait as long as possible before seeking medical help. After men are done seeing a pediatrician in their teenage years, they might not see any provider regularly until they are 60+ and have ailments that can no longer be ignored.
Another study found that out of 67 identified risk factors, 60 consistently lead to more male deaths than female. Moreover, men are 7 times more likely than women to die from occupational hazards. It is no wonder that on average, men live 5 years less than women in the United States. Many men grow up watching male friends and family living life and avoiding hospitals, waiting until an emergency happens or excessive pain, going to a hospital, and leaving sick with quickly declining health. This scenario certainly isn't the rule, but all men can probably think of someone important in their lives who was strong and healthy until they went to the hospital, and who did not live long after that.
For men, this scenario should not happen nearly as often as it does, yet it continues because men equate hospital's with death. It has not sunk in yet that it is always much easier to prevent disease than it is to treat it. It is not the hospital's fault that men wait to come for help when diseases have progressed. When it happens, both the man and provider and nurses are faced with a difficult, emotional situation. It is a situation that leaves a lasting impression amongst other men.
A survey by Orlando Health found that men tend to make excuses for not scheduling an appointment with their primary provider
. Most commonly, men are "too busy" to make time for an appointment. More telling, however, is the second most common excuse: they are afraid they might find out something is wrong with them. Series of books can probably be written about the social and pyschological aspects that go into men being afraid to find out something is wrong.
Instead, it is important to focus on changing the trend, little by little. June is Men's Health Month, and a time to remind men to detect and prevent. Schedule those screenings
that always get put off, form a relationship with a provider who can monitor and guide your health needs, and know that with today's health knowledge and technology, a diagnosis is not a death sentence.