Going to the Doctor

Coverage Aside: Men 3x More Likely To Go a Year Without Seeing a Doctor

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Women are more likely to go to the Doctor than men

Even without a source to back them up, most people would probably say men are less likely to go to the doctor than women.  Lots of women will tell you that they have to take out a cattle prod to get their spouse to go to the doctor.  This article says that is is embarrasement that prevents men from going to the doctor, not lack of insurance.  So of the people who die “becuase they didn’t have coverage” each year, how many of them are men?  I’ve read through several ‘studies’ and while the stats will say “x% of uninsured men were more likely to___,” not once is there anything about men vs. women over all.  What I keep seeing is that only favorable statistics are being used.  “x% of uninsured women don’t get an annual pap vs. y% (bigger number) of women with insurance who do.”  Ok, that’s just a pap, what about seeing the doctor for an STD.  They didn’t talk about that.  Maybe more uninsured women go to the doctor for STD treatment than women who do have insurance.  It would be logical, but would ruin their ‘resutls.’ From the Los Angeles Times, Found on the Military Officer’s Association of America site.

What was Darryl Kile thinking the night before he died? It was widely reported that the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher had complained to his brother of shoulder pain and weakness the evening before he was found dead in his hotel room June 23, at 33. Maybe Kile believed the soreness and fatigue came from overexerting himself on the mound, and so he didn’t recognize classic warning signs of the severely clogged arteries that a coroner later concluded likely had caused his death. Kile’s father had died at 44 of a heart attack and stroke, and one can’t help but wonder why the pitcher hadn’t sought medical attention that evening. We’ll never know, and second-guessing won’t bring back the admired athlete, husband, and father.

Kile’s death does raise anew a question that has long frustrated physicians. Why are men so reluctant to seek medical help? Doctors have known that many guys would rather clean gutters or watch synchronized swimming than schedule an office visit. In March, the journal Neurology reported that more than half of all male migraine sufferers never consult a doctor about their pain, compared to only about a quarter of female patients. A poll in 2000 by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York research group, found that American men are three times more likely than women to go a year without seeing a doctor.

In one sense, these statistics aren’t difficult to understand. Cavemen, presumably, didn’t sit around whining if a saber-toothed tiger chomped their leg. They had to tough it out and protect their clan or risk extinction. Some observers believe that remnants of that mentality persist today.

“It’s inculcated in men that we have to be the breadwinner, have to be strong, can’t acknowledge weakness,” said Harold L. Pass, a psychologist at Stony Brook University Hospital in New York who specializes in male psychology. “As a result, men tend to minimize medical symptoms when they first appear.”

Male foot-dragging is often fueled by embarrassment, experts say. What if there’s really nothing wrong with me? I’ll look like a hypochondriac, or worse, a sissy.

Pass has a friend who waited nearly 10 hours with severe chest pain before going to an emergency room because he thought it might be only heartburn. One little detail makes this story of masculine denial truly disturbing. The guy was a doctor. (He did have a mild heart attack but recovered.)

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2 responses

It’s not only the fear of appearing weak. Health care is an overwhelmingly female staffed environment. And women (and guys) are conditioned early on to have no regard for male modesty or privacy. (Ever see a little boy peeing in public? A little girl? “I’m a nurse” only seems to apply to it being OK for women to see a guy’s junk. Male nurses are pretty much banned from OB/Gyn floors, and I’ve yet to hear of one assisting with pelvic exams in the private office. Even in every ER where I’ve worked, the women RN or assistant chaperone exams on guys, but male RNs or assistants NEVER chaperone exams on women.) The receptionist, secretary, medical assistant, nurse, social worker, dietician, lab tech, and most others who work in that setting are female. AND at least half of physicians in the country are women. The man KNOWS that he will be exposed in front of a bunch of women. His only option is either to not go, or do the “man up” thing – male camouflage – “doesn’t bother me”, when he’s dying on the inside. Because to speak up makes him EITHER a pain in the ass, OR a wimp. And speaking up just highlights the situation and makes the embarrassment and loss of control feel more acute. Any guy demanding privacy and modesty will have his manhood (and size) disparaged. Especially if he demands same gender providers. But no one questions a woman who doesn’t want a bunch of men in for her exam. Go to any ER in the country, and a man has a better than average chance of having an all female staff, including doctor. A woman can’t even imagine an all male office or all male staffed health care experience of any sort. The doctor in your story probably didn’t go to the ER because he KNOWS how men are treated in the current system – it’s a no win situation. Don’t go and be labeled a macho idiot, or go and deal with the humiliation, or go and demand decent treatment – and you’re a macho idiot again.

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