Where Have All The Healthy Men Gone?
There are fewer men than women in doctor’s offices, but the boys are only cheating themselves
If the self-help adage "men are from Mars and women are from Venus" was true, there would be several empty doctor's offices on Mars. A recent survey conducted by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) found that only a third of men between the ages of 18 and 29 see a physician more than once a year. Jignesh Dholaria, MD, of St. Joseph's/Candler Primary Care on Southside, notices a similar discrepancy in the patients that visit his office.
"As a family practitioner, I see people anywhere from seven years old to 65 and above," Dholaria says. "I see more women than men."
The male patients that Dr. Dholaria does see tend to be in their mid-forties or older. In his experience, office visits curtail dramatically for men between 18 and 35 years of age. Some of the AOA's survey respondents cited lack of health insurance for not seeing a doctor, but theoretically that issue could be equally divided among men and women. Dr. Dholaria is more familiar with the other most common reason given: "I don't need to go."
"Younger men may think of themselves as somewhat invincible," Dholaria says. "They see that they are doing okay, and without noticing anything wrong, they don't see the need to go to a doctor."
Dr. Dholaria concedes that young men are generally in good health but, in not visiting a doctor, they are also denying themselves the significant benefit of routine physicals and screenings.
"With the rise in obesity, it can be especially important to have screening for conditions like diabetes," Dholaria says. Simple blood pressure screening can also be helpful for catching conditions such as hypertension early. Above all, Dr. Dholaria says, the doctor's visit is an important part of getting to know yourself (including researching your family's medical history) and allowing your doctor to get to know you.
"Seeing a physician at least once a year is absolutely a good idea for everyone, even if you're healthy," Dholaria says. "Why not give yourself the chance to stay that way by getting screened and preventing illnesses before they start?"