Men come up with lots of great reasons for not visiting the doctor. “They wait until they have a problem, rather than being preventative,” says Dr. Howard Shiffman, a family physician who works with the Canadian Men’s Clinic in Toronto. For instance, according to a survey from the American Academy of Family Physicians, 55 percent of men hadn’t had a checkup in the last year and 29 percent said they wait “as long as possible” to get help when they feel unwell. That holds true in Canada, too. Yet men between 30 and 45 should see their doctor every two years, even if they’re healthy. “Some things are silent until they become quite serious,” Shiffman says. So if your partner, brother, father or male friend is way overdue for a checkup, share these three reasons to go.
1. His sex life
Many preventable and treatable conditions can affect his ability to get it on. Diabetes, which affects some two million Canadians, is one example. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, erectile dysfunction affects between 34 percent and 45 percent of diabetic men. The disease impacts the heart (elevating heart-disease risk) as well as the blood vessels to the penis. People over 40 should get a blood test every three years to see if they’re at risk. Another reason to check up down there: Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are on the rise, according to Health Canada.
2. His bones
Osteoporosis is not just a women’s disease: One in eight men get it, and bones start weakening in their 30s. Heavy alcohol or soft-drink consumption, oral steroids and low testosterone can all take a toll, says Dr. Aliya Khan, a professor of clinical medicine at McMaster University. Men should talk to their doctor about osteoporosis risk factors and offsetting strategies such as getting more calcium, vitamin D and exercise. If they’re experiencing back pain or are losing height, they should get a bone density test now.
3. His ticker
There is a gender difference when it comes to heart disease, and it’s not always in men’s favour. A recent study of 53,781 men and women, conducted by Linköping University Hospital in Sweden, found that men were more likely to die of non-ST elevation heart attacks or unstable angina than women, even though the men got more intensive treatment. So encourage your guy to get his blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly.
This article was originally titled “Doc Talk,” in the Spring 2008 issue of Best Health magazine. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!