Are men less likely to visit their GP than women?

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Men's Health Advisor
@AVogelUK
Ask Dr. Jen Tan


17 October 2018

How often do men go to the doctors?

A study by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) looked at how often men and women visit their doctor or local pharmacist and, in regards to the attendance of men, the results didn’t look too promising.1 The NPA made four big conclusions on the matter:

  • Men are less likely than women to visit a pharmacy when they are sick
  • On average, men visit their GP 4 times a year in comparison to the 6 six times a year that women go
  • Men visit a pharmacy an average of 4 times a year in comparison to the 18 that women go
  • 9 in 10 men do not like to trouble their doctor or pharmacist unless they are suffering from a serious problem.

So, these results quite clearly indicate that men are less likely to go to their doctor than women are. Given that delaying a GP visit could have long term implications for your health, this is quite a worrying fact.

Consequences of not visiting your GP

As well as prolonging discomfort and illness, if you are experiencing problematic symptoms then failing to visit your GP can have a range of long-term consequences.

First of all, men who develop diseases like cancer and diabetes tend to be diagnosed later than women. This is because they are less likely to go to the doctor’s when symptoms develop and so when they do get a check-up and diagnosis, the problem is more advanced.

As well as this though, failing to visit your doctor could mean you miss out on disease screening - this helps to detect a problem early which usually means there are more treatment options available and the long-term prospects are more promising.

Also, statistics from 2015 found that around 63% of men and 56% of women were overweight or obese in the UK.3 The fact that men are less likely to visit their doctor could be part of the reason for the disparity between men and women in regards to their weight. That’s because men could be missing out on healthy living initiatives run by their local GP surgery.

Why do men put off visiting their GP?

There are a number of practical and personal reasons why men are reluctant to seek professional advice on medical matters but here are just a few common excuses. 

Too busy - a survey run by Orlando Health found that most men avoided visits to their doctor because they were “too busy.” 

Fear – for some people there can be a lot of fear surrounding a visit to the doctor’s. The visit itself can cause anxiety but people also worry about discovering something is wrong with them. What’s more, some people may feel uncomfortable about the prospect of examinations such as prostate checks.

Work – more men are in full time employment than women, plus they are more likely to work over 45 hours a week which could make it difficult to get to the doctors or a pharmacy.5 

Weakness – for some a visit to the doctors is like admitting defeat and so they see it as a sign of weakness.

Lack of discussion – in general women are better at discussing their health than men which means they are more aware of their symptoms and they are more pro-active about improving their health as well.

Common men’s health issues

Health problems can warrant a visit to the doctors at any age however, there a few specific issues that become more prominent as men get older. Below I’ve described two of the most common health concerns for men over the age of 50 - if you are experiencing symptoms of any of these things then a visit to the doctors is absolutely recommended for further advice and treatment.

       1) An enlarged prostate

First of all, the prostate has a tendancy to enlarge with age meaning symptoms such as frequent urination and pain when urinating gradually develop. There are a range of treatments available to help manage this condition so if you are experiencing these kinds of symptoms it is definitely recommended that you visit your doctor for further information. Also, once you’ve had that intitial diagnosis you can begin to implement lifetyle changes to manage the issue, plus you could turn to herbal remedies. Many men find Prostasan beneficial as it helps to relieve the urinary symptoms assocciated with an enlarged prostate.

       2) High blood pressure

The NHS recommends that adults over the age of 40 get their blood pressure checked at least once every five years.6 Although high blood pressure doesn’t come with a visible set of symptoms it can increase your risk of heart disease or a stroke so it is a serious issue. High blood pressure can be linked to a number of things including stress, lack of physical activity, long term sleep deprivation and being overweight.

Preparing for a doctor’s appointment

In general, the earlier a problem is detected, the better the outcome will be so if you have concerns about your health,  it’s best to get the issue checked out sooner rather than later. If you are worried about the prospect of attending an appointment though, then here are a few things to do in preparation:

  • Make a written note of your symptoms and questions before entering the consultation. This will help you to feel more prepared for the meeting and will ensure you don’t forget to say the things you want to
  • Ask questions and resquest further advice when you don’t understand something 
  • Don’t be afraid to take someone with you – you aren’t being manly by going it alone! They could even take notes if you feel it would help.

 

1 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/nov/04/men-failing-seek-nhs-help 

2 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-screening/ 

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk/overweight-and-obesity#heading-One 

4 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160609064534.htm  

5 https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/january2018  

6 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/diagnosis/  

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Here's what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Men’s Health advisor, I recommend Prostasan® Saw Palmetto capsules to help relieve symptoms arising from enlarged prostate.

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Did you know?

BPH is a very common problem that increases the older men get, and around half of all men have an enlarged prostate by the age of 50. At the age of 80, this has risen to 80%

What you need to know about BPH

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