Calling all husbands, fathers, brothers and sons; when did you last see your GP?
Men’s Health Week is this week.
Being of the female gender, and a regular visitor to the doc, I ask myself “why does men’s health need a week of attention?”
After some exploration and a few questions to local GPs, it is apparent that men need more tender loving care than most think; the stats say so.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average life expectancy for Australian men is almost five years less than women. Males can reach to 79, whilst females see it out to 84.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Statistics also confirm that men take their own lives at four times the rate of women. Men are also leading the way with health culprits such as heart disease, lung cancer, Parkinson’s disease and more.
Why is this? Why is the health of an x chromosome on the decline?
There appears to be a wealth of contributing factors, including:
- men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours (substance abuse or dangerous driving)
- lack of awareness or health challenges that face males
- stigmas that surround mental health
- male attitudes are different to those of females
- men are statistically less likely to seek help for health concerns.
All these factors are important, however, it is this last bullet point is one that is quite significant. It is reported that men were less likely to have GP checkups at least annually than were women (49% compared with 62%). And this is not reflected of the “retiree” demographic; this gap is really driven by younger age groups (15-24 and 24-44).
“PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE”
There is a quote by Dutch Philosopher, Desiderius Erasmus, “Prevention is better than cure”, which is quite applicable. Rather than wait to visit your GP when you feel run down, be proactive and visit them even if feeling spritely, and get a general health check-up. And don’t just do this once. Do it on a regular basis. And by regular basis, I mean once a year. Minimum.
Now that you have read this, I am certain that you are on the phone right now, coordinating your next visit. So what do you ask when you are in that practice room with your GP?
Given that I am not a GP, nor a male, Dr Peter Clements, Director, Medical Education here at GPEx provided me with a little checklist for you ask at your next general check-up.
THE #TOPTEN LIST
Top ten questions for males to ask at their next GP visit include:
- Does my family history and lifestyle put me at risk?
- How do I avoid developing heart disease?
- How often should I get my cholesterol checked?
- How often should I get my prostate checked?
- How often should I have my blood pressure checked?
- Are there any other tests or screens that I need? (eg. STDs, cancer screens)
- Am I a healthy weight?
- Do I need to update any of my immunisations?
- Is my diet healthy? (eg. do I need to drink less alcohol/caffeine, eat better?)
- When do I need to come back?
And this friends, is why we have Men’s Health Week; so it can raise awareness of these challenges that males face – and how males can introduce behaviours in attempt to curb these challenges, and increase their life span.
Don’t wait until you reach retirement to visit your GP or when you feel poorly; bring it forward to make sure you keep on top of your health.
So when did you (or your husband, father, brother or son) visit your GP?