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Healthy Tips

7 Ways to Talk to Men About Their Health

American Men Are Less Likely to Go to the Doctor Than Women

Let’s face it. Most men don’t like going to the doctor. In fact, a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control confirmed what we already suspected: American men are much less likely to go to the doctor than women. No doubt, you might need to nudge the man in your life, and a delicate touch works way better than a one-two punch. Here are seven ways to get started:

1. Offer to Help

It would be much easier to just make the appointment for him, but this may undermine his trust. Instead, offer to help him and then, work together to pick a reasonable time – one that is convenient with his schedule at work, or doesn’t require too much shuffling of his daily routine. Taking time for appointments is one of the biggest obstacles men cite for not going to the doctor. The fewer barriers, the better.

2. Set a Good Example

Actions speak louder than words, so be a good role model. Schedule and go to your annual physicals, and follow up with age-appropriate screenings. Practicing healthy habits of your own is not just of benefit to you, it also sets up your partner for a healthy lifestyle. By exercising daily, adding healthy foods like fruit and veggies to home grocery lists and focusing on ways to manage your own stress, he’ll feel inspired to do the same.

3. Be Prepared for Common Excuses

“I’m not that sick,” “I don’t have time,” “I don’t trust my doctor,” or “The doctor will find something wrong with me” are some of the most common reasons men avoid seeing a doctor. Be ready to counter by saying, “You may not be sick, but you’re not a doctor, so just to be sure, please go,” “Two hours at the doctor could save you from being more sick and missing more work later,” or “The doctor may give you information that can bring better health, if you act on it.” Men may also dislike certain screenings such as the rectal exam because it is uncomfortable (cough, cough). Remind him most screenings are quick, and chances of living a longer, healthy life are better if certain diseases are caught early. One test shouldn’t keep him from an annual physical that could save his life.

4. Pay Attention

Most physicians’ offices provide a pre-appointment reminder call, a post-visit summary and sometimes a follow-up call after the appointment. If he doesn’t receive any of these, try to engage in a conversation to get him to be more forthcoming. Offer to discuss the post-visit summary to determine next steps.

5. Notice Symptoms

Chest pain, changes in bladder or bowel problems, blood in urine, depression, red swollen, tender gums, frequent night time urination, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and back problems may be signs that something bigger is going on.

6. Express Your Concern

Discuss your past and future to increase your bond together. “Showing your love goes a long way. It’s easy to nag, but avoid arguments and don’t manipulate or threaten to leave the relationship. Start by saying, ‘I love you and want you to be here to live a long life with me, so please do this for us,’” says Nelson Bennett, MD, urologist with Northwestern Medical Group.

7. Accentuate the Positive

Above all, focus on what he’s doing right, rather than pointing out the negative. You’ll face less resistance from him if you complement the positive actions he is taking toward good health. Pick a time when there are few distractions and little stress to discuss things like scheduling his annual check-up or getting a heart test.

Remember, research shows that men are just as concerned about gaining weight as having a stroke. At the end of the day, it’s not clear why men are so different than women when it comes to talking about health. Research suggests it could be cultural and/or biological. But just like asking for directions, a strong person embraces healthy habits and routine health care to stay on the right path.

Nelson E. Bennett Jr, MD
Nelson E. Bennett Jr, MD
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Associate Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Primary Specialty Andrology and Infertility
  • Secondary Specialty Urology
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