June is Men's Health Month and at TargetCare, we are shining the spotlight on the importance of male health to encourage men to live longer, happier lives. Men face unique barriers to health and often experience difficulties that can go unnoticed or neglected—hence the importance of Men’s Health Month. During this month, there's no better time to raise awareness about the preventable diseases in men and encourage early detection and treatment.
Here are four noteworthy facts to know during Men’s Health Month.
1. 40% of men wait until a problem or symptom becomes unbearable before they will see a doctor.
There’s a culture- and media-driven expectation for men to be strong and rarely show signs of weakness. This socially-ingrained mindset subconsciously trains men to believe that going to the doctor exhibits weakness.
A survey conducted by The Cleveland Clinic found that 40 percent of men go to the doctor only when they have a serious health issue, and never go for routine checkups. This number is far lower than women’s frequency of doctor visits.
Men also tend to exhibit a fear of diagnosis. About 21% of men admit to avoiding the doctor because they’re too nervous to find out what might be wrong. It seems that the pressure to conceal weaknesses is so strong that it can even lead men into a state of denial, and again, this is a worrying statistic. To be clear: ignoring your medical problems will not make them go away.
2. Prostate cancer affects one in nine men.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 175,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed each year, and prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. Given these statistics, it’s important to ensure that at-risk men are being screened for prostate cancer—especially considering men’s known reluctance to seek preventive care.
On the bright side, however, prostate cancer typically grows slowly, so many cases don’t require immediate treatment and aren’t life-threatening. Still, the earlier prostate cancer is caught, the easier it can be contained. It’s always better to be on the safe side.
3. Mental health is one of the most stigmatized issues affecting men.
Mental health is an issue that many men don’t discuss, yet the American Psychological Association reports that 30% of men have suffered from depression in their lifetime. Again, men’s hesitation to seek care may be worsening the issue.
Men are notorious for not talking about their feelings-- it’s an actual trend that psychologists have documented. For many men, discussing emotions is just another form of vulnerability that can lead to discomfort. It can be scary for them to share their feelings, but the payoff is worth it: men who express their feelings verbally are less likely to express them violently.
So talk to the men in your life. Encourage them to talk about their day, tell you about their emotions, and be open with you. Asking someone how they’re truly doing can lead to open, honest discussions about mental health.
4. Men are expected to live five years less than women, on average.
The average U.S. male life expectancy is 76 years, compared to the female life expectancy of 81. This disparity in lifespan should speak for itself—men simply aren’t as healthy as they could be, and it’s time to fix that. On top of eating healthier, exercising more, and limiting alcohol, getting routine check-ups is one of the most important ways to prevent illness.
Men should have a routine check-up every other year starting in their 30’s and then every year starting in their 40’s. Additional exams by age include:
Cardiovascular, coronary artery disease, blood pressure, and testicular screenings should start as early as age 20.
Colon, rectal, and prostate cancer screening if no family history of cancer starting at age 50.
There’s no doubt that men’s health issues deserve attention. And men must be encouraged to continue seeking health care. The responsibility lies upon all of us to keep this necessary conversation going, even once June is over—because men’s health is always worthy of discussion. Let’s break down stigmas, embolden men to seek care, and continue to ensure that no patient falls through the cracks