Despite the fact that no one should be uncomfortable speaking about their health, studies show that men are less likely to go to the doctor than women.
We spoke to Dr Will Courtenay*, a Californian psychotherapist who specialises in men’s health and the author of Dying to be Men, to find out why men don’t want to talk about their health.
They think other men don’t care
One of the main misconceptions that men have is that they are the only ones concerned about their health.
“When men believe other men are unconcerned about their own health, they think they shouldn’t be concerned about theirs. [They begin to think] that it’s somehow unmanly to be concerned and that they should have a more ‘devil may care’ attitude,” says Dr Courtenay.
Unfortunately, this belief discourages men from talking to other people (including doctors) and from seeking care even if they need it.
The myth of the stronger sex
Despite an improvement in attitudes, there’s still a powerful cultural myth that men are ‘the stronger sex’. As a result, men tend to feel a lot of social pressure to prove their manhood each and every day.
“Admitting that ‘the machine’ that is their body is somehow faulty undermines their ability to effectively do that,” explains Dr Courtenay.
This can create a somewhat competitive mindset. “Talking to others, especially other men, about a physical (or mental) limitation can put a man in a one-down position, relative to other men – or women. This is a position many men want to avoid.”
Thinking it could harm their career
Career is where many men derive a lot of self-worth. So, what if your health might jeopardise that? For example, if you are someone who works in a physical job and start to wonder if that might be taken away from you? Not a pleasant thought.
“We know that a physical or mental disability of any sort can really undercut a man’s masculinity and sense of himself as a man, especially when this interferes with his ability to perform his job,” says Dr Courtenay. “[This is] equally true for men who hold positions where they feel they’ll be undermined if they discover they have a health problem.”
However, the issue can often get worse if you ignore it. It could be something easy to fix in the early stages, but gets more intrusive the longer you wait. Something to bear in mind.
Fear of finding out something’s wrong
This is the general assumption that nothing is wrong until it’s medically proven that there is something wrong. It’s obviously a relatively foolish attitude, but sometimes it’s harder to avoid than you think.
“When men don’t want to see doctors, one of the big reasons is a fear of finding out there’s something wrong – that there’s a physical problem,” says Dr Courtenay. “Of course, a lot of people would say that, ‘If there’s a problem, I want to know about it!’ But that’s not always true with men.”
Believing you’re invulnerable
Men can think they are invulnerable to illness, especially serious issues like heart disease. Despite the fact that men are more at risk of these types of illnesses, it’s more common for them to assume that it won’t happen to them.
“When someone doesn’t think they’re vulnerable to risks, they don’t take precautions. That includes not talking to doctors or others,” explains Dr Courtenay.
The potential for embarrassment
Talking about health issues can feel embarrassing, especially if they are sex related or in areas of the body you’d rather not discuss.
For example, men could feel pretty awkward talking about any erectile problems they have because it involves their penis and sex life.
But men should know that sexual health conditions are actually surprisingly common (4.3 million men in the UK experience erectile problems**), so there really is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Plus, getting hold of treatment for erectile dysfunction is more convenient than ever. VIAGRA Connect® is available without a prescription in the UK to help men with erectile dysfunction and is available to buy from the Pharmacy and registered online Pharmacies.
For more information on ED and VIAGRA Connect®, please visit: www.viagraconnect.co.uk
VIAGRA Connect®: 50mg film coated tablets. Contains Sildenafil. For erectile dysfunction in adult men. Always read the leaflet. PP-VCO-GBR-0195
* Dr Will Courtenay was interviewed by Yahoo UK and, to our knowledge, has no relationship with VIAGRA Connect® and did not explicitly endorse the product.
** men reporting occasional and frequent difficulty getting or maintaining an erection [ref. Kantar TNS Omnibus Survey Dec 2010 – in a survey of 1,033 men]