The statistics are disturbing. According to one survey, fewer than half of Canadian men see their doctor on a regular basis.
The study also found that almost one in four men haven’t had a medical check up in at least five years.
All indications are that men wait until their symptoms are severe before seeking medical attention.
Whereas women are “conditioned” from an early age to see their doctor for an annual PAP test, which gives them an opportunity to review their overall health, guys just don’t develop this habit, says Dr. Jonathan Kerr, a family doctor in Belleville, Ont.
“Young healthy guys between the ages of 15 and 35 years typically don’t see the doctor, which breeds unfamiliarity and even discomfort at the idea of seeing a doctor,” says Kerr. He adds that young men often don’t see a doctor until they’re “sick or have broken something.”
It could be that men are averse to feeling vulnerable, or to putting themselves in someone else’s care, says Dr. Mel Borins, a Toronto family physician.
However, Borins thinks that men’s brains are also actually “hard wired” to protect their children and spouse rather than themselves.
Finding the time to see the doctor is another barrier for busy men. But an annual physical exam takes only about 20 minutes, and is an important time to review a man’s health history.
Research funds raised this month go to research into prostate cancer and to services for men living with this disease and their families, says Rebecca von Goetz, executive vice-president of Prostate Cancer Canada. Her organization is also launching a 1-800 number to offer tools to these men, including information on where to find a support group in their area.
To get involved, register at movember.com.