Men generally tend to sabotage their chances of good health because they are too shy, too macho, too busy, or too afraid to ask for help. Statistically men visit their GP half as often as women but globally men die younger than women. In contrast men are more sensitive to mild ailments such as flu and tend to over-rate how bad the symptoms are in comparison with women.
A man may believe that putting up with pain is all part of being a man and he may brag that he haven’t seen a doctor for years. Another reason that men may avoid going to GP practices is the perceived ‘feminisation’ of the environment. For example, magazines aimed predominately at women, posters with breast and cervical cancer screening information, and contraceptive advice. A place where women with their sick children or older relatives visit frequently leaves little room for a space where men may feel comfortable. Large posters on testicular cancer or prostate cancer are very rarely seen in the local GPs waiting room.
One area where men are still failing to seek out medical treatment is erectile dysfunction. Around 40 per cent of men over 40 suffer from some degree of erectile dysfunction. For some, the cause may be psychological, while for others it may be an indicator of more serious medical conditions like diabetes or heat disease.
Research by the British Heart Foundation found that seven out of ten men with a heart condition also had erectile dysfunction problems. Heart disease is characterised by narrowing and hardening of the arteries and reduced blood flow. The arteries in the penis are narrow and problems that show up in erectile dysfunction may be a the first warning signs of heart disease. On average it is three years from the first signs of erectile dysfunction to when a man night have a heart attack.
Impotence is also closely linked with diabetes. Diabetes damages the blood vessels and eventually the nerve endings. Damage occurs first in the areas far from the brain, such as hands and feet, but also for men; their penis. Due to embarrassment, men often fail to discuss erectile dysfunction with their GP who further compounds the problem by avoiding the subject. Early identification of the cause of erectile dysfunction may also lead to early detection of more life threatening conditions.
Christopher Swane - Counselling And Psychotherapy For Men - Wellington New Zealand