Positive Masculinity Contributor - Dominique Lewis
Bio: Lead Content Writer for Positive Masculinity, Technical Writer in the medical device industry
Have you ever heard the saying, “Men live shorter lives”? This might sound like a myth, but there’s a lot of truth behind this statement. Unfortunately, the main causes of death in the United States are more represented by men. Plenty of statistics display that the main causes of death in men are: heart disease, cancer, and suicide. Beyond finding the truth behind the myth, there are a few culprits that keep these statistics at bay. The major reason why men are at a higher risk for disease and illness is due to the fact that most of the time they avoid asking for professional help when they need it the most. This could cause men to abandon health risks and possibly shorten the chance of a longer life. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to remain this way. There are simple, small, and attainable steps that lead to creating healthier habits for men to live longer.
Statistics and Social Stigma:
The illnesses associated with the main causes of death in men are very intimidating diagnoses and may seem overwhelming. Starting with heart disease, Optimum Direct Care has evidence that states, “Affecting nearly one out of every fifteen men in the United States, various forms of heart disease are responsible for a quarter of all male deaths”. They also found that, “ In fact, research shows that the suicide rate among American men is about four times higher than among women”. Considering the statistics, this health care agency suggests that preventative medicine can be the solution for heart disease, stroke, suicide, lung cancer prostate cancer in men.
Still, there are even more detrimental stigmas holding men back from seeking professional help or choosing preventative or precautious care. Some of the roadblocks happen to be confidentiality of health information, embarrassment, a female dominated health care system, and fear of tragic diagnoses. Healthline reports in a study of men at the Cleveland Clinic, “65 percent of respondents said they avoid going to the doctor as long as possible”. Some of the causes are: (1)“They worry about a bad diagnosis or a bad outcome”, (2) “They see going to the doctor as a weakness”, and (3) “Men don’t like being vulnerable”. The list continues of countless reasons and responses as to why most men do not seek professional healthcare advice or treatment. Yet, all the reasons above lead men to have a higher health risk. Combating these false beliefs with health risks, consequences, and the truth can bring restoration for men’s health.
Steps Toward Longer Living for Men:
Most of the population wants to live a long life. While cultural stigmas discourage men from achieving that goal, there is still room for change. If our society can support men by encouraging them to seek healthier habits for the sake of their lives, dreams, and families, we all can live to see men thrive beyond their expected life span.
Some practical ways to combat stigma and increase the lifespan of men can be:
Finding a male physician who they feel comfortable with.
Cultivate multiple accountability partners, including friends and family, to encourage attending regular check-ups.
Seek specialists for specialty check-ups (prostate checks and/or any serious illnesses).
Inviting public health programs and professionals including but not limited to physicians, teachers, professors, and counselors to acknowledge the issue of men’s health and educate the larger population in the workplace and schools early on.
Seeking preventative medicine and precautionary health care through lifestyle, diet, and consultations.
Banks, Ian. “No Man’s Land: Men, Illness, and the NHS.” BMJ, vol. 323, no. 7320, BMJ, Nov. 2001, pp. 1058–60. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7320.1058.
Jubb, Joe. “‘It’ll Get Better on Its Own’: Men And Their Resistance to Seeing a Doctor - the Health Policy Partnership.” The Health Policy Partnership, 8 Nov. 2022, www.healthpolicypartnership.com/itll-get-better-on-its-own-men-and-their-resistance-to-seeing-a-doctor.
Care, Optimum Direct. “5 of the Most Common Men’s Health Issues.” Optimum Direct Care, June 2021, optimumdirectcare.com/5-of-the-most-common-mens-health-issues.
Campbell, Leah. “Why so Many Men Avoid Going to the Doctor.” Healthline, 14 Sept. 2019, www.healthline.com/health-news/why-so-many-men-avoid-doctors.
Winerman, Lea. “Helping Men to Help Themselves.” https://www.apa.org, www.apa.org/monitor/jun05/helping.