Is masculinity getting in the way of health?

What is it about men that makes them so reluctant to go to see a doctor when they have a health problem? The answer to this question is complex, but could it be in part the cultural beliefs about masculinity. Some men may be reluctant to go to the doctor because it conflicts with the need to be strong, capable and they don’t want to be seen as vulnerable.  But is masculinity getting in the way of health?

A study, conducted by Rutgers University researchers, found that men are less likely to visit a doctor than women.  When asked why, the results were:

  • 20% said they were too busy working
  • 30% said they couldn’t be bothered, or they thought the condition would solve itself
  • 7% were just too embarrassed.


And when they do go to the doctor, they are more likely to see a male physician and describe their symptoms as less serious than they actually are.

Whatever the reason for men’s reluctance to visit their doctor, the evidence is clear, men die younger.  The biggest causes of premature death in men are cancer and circulatory diseases such as stroke and heart disease, most of which can be detected early or can be impacted by making some healthier lifestyle choices.  Simple changes can make a big difference. Walking for a half hour a day can cut the chance of a heart attack or stroke by a third. Even small changes in diet like less processed food and more vegetable can reduce health risk.

Regular and essential health checks are an important way of catching the early signs of disease so as we approach the end of Men’s Health Month, let’s keep encouraging everyone to focus on their health.