The stats on men’s health tell a striking story. Men have a lower life expectancy than women, and around 20% of men die before they retire. In under 50s, suicide is the most common cause of death, with men accounting for three-quarters of UK suicides in 2018. Men are twice as likely to die from alcohol poisoning as women. They’re also more likely to self-medicate, with 1 in 10 having purchased a prescription-only medication without a prescription.
Despite this, many men’s health issues can be treated effectively if caught early. The Movember campaign takes place every November to increase awareness of prostate and testicular cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention. When life gets stressful, we all need a reminder to look after ourselves. Often, a simple conversation is the first step towards saving a life.
Do men go to the doctor’s less?
Time and again, studies find that men are less likely than women to visit their GP or pharmacy. The gender gap in consulting rates is most pronounced between the ages of 16 and 60 years old. In fact, women aged 20-40 visit their GP twice as often as men the same age. Men in this age group are the most likely to be working full time, and perhaps feel that they cannot (or should not) take time off work to visit the doctor.
With both physical and mental health problems, it’s important to seek help early. Many of us avoid visiting the doctor’s because we fear the worst, yet still put on a brave face to our loved ones. The easiest way to reduce this strain is to open up and reach out for support.
Help yourself first
The longer we put off a doctor’s visit, the more tempting it is to self-diagnose. It’s no secret that many of us Google our symptoms, but online diagnoses make it easy to catastrophise and make our worrying worse. On the other extreme, some people dismiss their health problems as ‘not a big deal’ and hope it goes away on its own, waiting until they’re in extreme pain before seeking help.
When struggling to confront a health problem, remember the in-flight safety guidance: put on your own mask before assisting others. If you’re worried that a health problem might impact your ability to work or care for your family, it’s important to catch it early so you can get back to your best as soon as possible.
If you’re worried about prostate or testicular cancer, these issues may be particularly intimidating to raise with your doctor. It’s common to worry about examinations that may seem embarrassing, especially if you’re not sure whether your doctor will be male or female. Remember you can usually request a male doctor for your appointment if this makes you feel more comfortable. The most important step is to make that first phone call.
Accessing men’s health support
Free healthcare resources are just a call or click away. It only takes one moment of courage to get the help you need. For quick advice try:
NHS 111 urgent health advice
Find a GP or walk-in clinic
The Samaritans mental health support
Movember men’s health awareness
Westfield Health customers can access fast support through our DoctorLine™ service or 24 Hour Advice and Information Line. Your employer may also be able to offer you a place on a men’s health webinar or health calendar module.