Men's Health

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June is National Men’s Health Month, a time to change the narrative about men’s health and encourage men to take a proactive approach to health, including mental health. Men are significantly less likely than women to see a doctor or report symptoms to a healthcare provider. Only 60 percent of men go to the doctor for a yearly, routine check-up, and 40 percent won’t go until something is seriously wrong.

Here are some other important facts that can be a starting point for opening up dialogue about men’s health:

Fact 1: U.S. women are now living about 6 years longer than U.S. men.

The overall mortality rate is 41 percent higher for men than women, and it’s higher for men in 8 out of the 10 leading causes of death—including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.


Fact 2: Men are less likely to seek healthcare than women.

Who doesn’t love superheroes like Captain America and Superman? They’re the paragon of toughness and grit, fearlessness and brawn. But as popular as these heroes are, their influence may have unwittingly created a problem in the healthcare field.

There’s a culture- and media-driven expectation for men to be strong and, like superheroes, 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 confirmed this trend, finding 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. Needless to say, it’s a concerning figure.

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.

This month, let’s work together to turn this trend around and create a cultural shift where men don’t find it embarrassing or emasculating to seek out medical help.

Fact 3: Prostate cancer affects one in nine men

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men in the United States. A man is 2 to 3 times more likely to get prostate cancer if his father, brother or son had it. Talk to your doctor about having PSA and DRE levels checked.
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.

Fact 4: Mental health is one of the most stigmatized issues affecting men

31 percent of men suffer depression in their lifetime and 9 percent of men have daily feelings of depression or anxiety. But only 1/4 talk to a mental health professional, and only 1/3 take medication. Pay attention to signs of depression and don’t be afraid to seek help. Many men—perhaps more than we think—struggle with their mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. The ➤American Psychological Association reports that 30.6% of men have suffered from depression in their lifetime. Again, men’s hesitation to seek care may be worsening this issue.

Men are notorious for not talking about their feelings, and no, that’s not just another stereotype. It’s an actual trend ➤psychologists have documented. In the eyes of many men, discussing emotions is just another form of vulnerability that can lead to discomfort. It can be scary for many men to begin sharing their feelings, but the payoff is worth it: men who express their feelings verbally are less likely to express them in other ways.

Talk to the men in your life. Encourage them to talk about their day, to tell you about their emotions, and to be open with you. They may be resistant at first, but persistence is powerful, and you’ll be doing your part to improve men’s mental health.

Fact 5: Healthy lifestyle choices do make a difference

The ➤stats back it up: men drink more heavily and smoke more frequently than women. Habitual drinking and smoking can have severe health implications. Drugs and alcohol ➤can cause issues ranging from lung and heart disease to liver problems to preventable accidents.

Men also tend to make ➤less healthy choices in the kitchen. Women eat far more fruits and vegetables than men, while men prefer meat and dairy. Yes, we know we’re starting to sound like a broken record about the impact of cultural factors, but it’s likely that social norms are influencing this trend, too. Cultural expectations can play a subliminal role in men’s dietary choices and can have consequences over time.

Partly due to health behaviors, men have a shorter life expectancy than women. This gap has only continued to widen over time, and men are currently expected to live ➤5 fewer years than women, on average. So if anyone asks why we need a month for men’s health, 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.

Get Proactive About Your Health

Get preventive care to stay healthy

Many people think of the doctor as someone to see when they’re sick. But doctors also provide services — like screening tests and vaccines — that help keep you from getting sick in the first place.

Get screening tests to find problems early

Screenings are medical tests that doctors use to check for diseases and health conditions before there are any signs or symptoms. Screenings help find problems early on, when they may be easier to treat.

Depending on your age and medical history, you may need to be screened (tested) for things like:

  • Certain types of cancer
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • STIs (sexually transmitted infections), also called STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
  • Mental health conditions, like depression

Learn more about getting screened

Stay up to date on your vaccines

Everyone needs vaccines to stay healthy. Ask your doctor or nurse which vaccines you need to stay healthy — then make sure you stay up to date. For example, everyone age 6 months and older needs a seasonal flu vaccine every year.

Find out which vaccines you may need if you’re:

Use the MyHealthfinder tool to get personalized recommendations for screening tests and vaccines.

Content on this page taken from:

  • Indiana University School of Medicine:
  • Summit Medical Group:
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: