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5 reasons why real men go to the doctor

Posted on Jun 10, 2014 ( comments)

We all know the stereotypes about men and doctors. Even physicians joke about them.

"We often say that men only go to the doctor because their spouses force them to, they have a limb falling off or something doesn't work anymore," says Jack Keech, DO, an oncologist with MultiCare Health System.

However, Dr. Keech and other physicians want men to make a habit of taking care of their health, including making regular visits to the doctor. 

"We would much rather see you in our offices and help you prevent a problem than meet you for the first time in the hospital," says John Vaccaro, MD, urological surgeon with MultiCare.

To motivate men to make that first primary care appointment, doctors offer up these five reasons real men should go to the doctor:

Because maintenance matters

You protect your home and car by staying on top of maintenance issues. That's because you know keeping things in good shape now prevents serious and costly problems down the road.

Your body works the same way. Taking good care of it by visiting the doctor annually can help you sidestep problems both large and small.

"We know that certain medical interventions and screenings, made at an appropriate age, can prevent or delay the onset of illness," says carl Trott, DO, an internist with MultiCare’s Gig Harbor Medical Park. "And that helps to maintain both the quality and quantity of your life."

Because you can't judge a book by its cover

Even if your car seems to be purring along just fine, you still look under the hood every once in a while. It's a way to guard against a breakdown.

It's the same way with your body: just because you look and feel fine doesn't mean that nothing is amiss inside. For example, some conditions, such as heart disease and colon cancer, show no symptoms early on.

But if you want to uncover problems before they become serious issues, you have to let the doctor check.

"Men need to see their doctors on a regular basis to have their blood pressure and cholesterol tested," says Daniel Guerra, MD, a cardiologist with Cardiac Study Center and the medical director of MultiCare's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories.

"It’s important for men to know their risk factors for heart disease."

Once you know your risk factors, you can make lifestyle changes to help avoid a heart attack. 

This applies to colon health as well.

"You can feel great and still have precancerous polyps growing in your colon," says Joshua Levin, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon with MultiCare. "You need to have a colonoscopy if you want to find and remove those polyps before they become cancerous."

Because the thighbone is connected to the knee bone

When a light burns out, you hope it's just the bulb. But you know the problem could be deeper—in the socket, or even in a circuit. 

Likewise, when most men experience a health problem, they hope it can be easily resolved, but that's not always the case. Seemingly minor health problems can indicate other, more serious issues.

Only a doctor can systematically sift through your symptoms and health history to connect the dots. 

For example, impotence is a common problem among men and may have a simple cause, such as low self-esteem. However, impotence can also be associated with cardiovascular disease.

"When men come in with impotence, we need to make sure their hearts are OK," Dr. Vaccaro says. "Then we can offer the proper treatment, not just something to clear up the obvious problem."

Similarly, depression and anxiety can have many roots. For aging men, they could be connected to testosterone deficiency. In turn, such a shortfall may also affect bodily functions related to heart disease and diabetes.

"Keeping men's testosterone at a healthy level can decrease anxiety," says Judith Rubin, MD, a family practitioner with MultiCare’s Gig Harbor Medical Park who specializes in anti-aging medicine. "But it can also improve cardiac functions and blood sugar levels."

Because problems have solutions

If your smartphone battery runs down before you think it should, you don't just ignore it. You find out if something is wrong with the device. 

The same is true for the human body. As a man's body ages, some things will naturally start to slow down or misfire. 

That doesn't mean you have to operate at half-strength. Many problems have solutions, and you may feel better simply by asking questions.

Consider prostate enlargement. It happens to 80 percent of men as they age, says Victor Kiesling Jr., MD, a urologist with MultiCare. 

It can lead to serious issues in the bladder and kidneys, but its most common symptom is difficulty passing urine.

That’s not fun to live with.

"It affects your quality of life if you’re always looking for a toilet," Dr. Kiesling says. "But for the majority of men, these symptoms can be addressed and improved with medication."

Because your family and friends love and rely upon you

You might buy life insurance, or maybe you put away a little each month to safeguard your family and their financial future. Visiting the doctor is another way to provide for your loved ones. 

For their sakes, it's up to you to learn about your health risks and preventive measures.

About The Author

maura hallam Maura Hallam
Maura is our senior content editor. She writes extensively about health and wellness topics, from fitness and nutrition to medical insurance. You can reach her at maura.hallam@multicare.org.

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