In 2019, most men (72%) would have rather done almost anything—including cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn—than go to the doctor. And almost two-thirds of men said they’d wait as long as possible to see their doctor if they have any health symptoms or injuries. Add a pandemic into the mix, and a decline in primary care visits created even more gaps in healthcare.
So what does this mean for the men in our lives who already weren’t going to the doctor?
In June, a month largely dedicated to celebrating the men in our lives with Father’s Day and Men’s Health Week, we’re taking a closer look at the state of men’s health in 2021.
According to the CDC, the leading causes of death among adult men in the U.S. are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke.
Here is a closer look at the numbers.
1 in every 4 male deaths in the United States—that’s 357,761 men—is caused by heart disease. And according to the CDC, half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Checking on your heart health regularly is so important, as you may be at risk for heart disease without knowing. If you’re looking for a convenient option, our Heart Health Test measures Total Cholesterol, HDL, Calculated LDL, Triglycerides, hs-CRP, and HbA1c—which are important markers related to cardiovascular disease like heart attack, stroke, as well as diabetes.
Similarly, stroke is a leading cause of death in men, killing almost the same number of men each year as prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease combined. But the good news is that about 4 out of 5 strokes are preventable, which is why it’s important to know your risks and take steps to prevent strokes.
Adult men have higher rates of getting and dying from cancer than women. To help lower your risk factors, the CDC recommends that in addition to making healthy choices like quitting smoking and exercising regularly, men get the necessary cancer screening tests that are right for them.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. Approximately 4.4% of men (1 in 23) will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and incidence rates are 30% higher in men than in women. However, colorectal cancer is highly treatable when detected early. In fact, the USPSTF recommends that American adults 45 to 75 years old at average risk start screening for colorectal cancer. And with an at-home lab test like our FIT Colon Cancer Screening Test*, the first step is as simple as the stroke of a brush.
In the case of COVID-19, data suggest the mortality rate for those infected with the virus is higher for men compared to women. The CDC studied factors that may put men at a disproportionate risk of dying of COVID-19 and found that in addition to sex differences in immune responses and hormones there are also psychological, social, and behavioral components that influence COVID-19 progression. According to the same research, men also tend to have “lower rates than women of handwashing, social distancing, wearing masks, and effectively and proactively seeking medical help.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic survey, 65% of men tend to wait as long as possible to see their doctor if they have any health symptoms or an injury. Especially men ages 35-54 tend to “tough it out” for as long as possible compared to men ages 55 and above.
But why do men avoid their healthcare provider? There are likely multiple factors at play, but the same survey found that stereotypes taught at a young age affect how men feel about vulnerability and illness in their adult lives. In fact, 2 in 5 men were told as children that men don’t complain about health issues, which could be why so many men see their health and wellness as less of a priority.
Another reason why some men may avoid going to their healthcare provider? Inconvenience. 61% of men who aren’t already seeing their doctor for annual check-ups say they would be more likely to do so if seeing the doctor was more convenient.
Well, the good news is that innovative healthcare methods like at-home lab tests make access to preventative care easier and more convenient than ever. Everlywell offers a spectrum of tests that can help men check on the state of their health and wellness from the convenience and comfort of their homes. Learn more about our Men’s Health Test, Testosterone Test, Heart Health Test, and more!
It’s no surprise that the pandemic prevented many people from accessing healthcare during a time when most people were following lockdown and stay-at-home orders for weeks and even months. In some cases, annual in-person health checks became telehealth appointments, and in other cases, people simply did not go to see their healthcare provider. Pandemic aside, people are still avoiding going to the doctor’s office due to financial and accessibility issues.
While at-home lab testing allowed some to continue to monitor their health and wellness from home, it has been reported that the pandemic created even more gaps in healthcare, with a more than 60% decline in healthcare visits during the height of the pandemic.
Aside from the physical health outcomes of men who may have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the pandemic also impacted social, emotional, and mental health for many populations—including men.
Make healthier choices. This first tip is a no-brainer. Taking control of your overall health and wellness starts with taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Your health and wellness is unique to you, and you should collaborate with your healthcare provider to decide what habits and routines work best for you, but here are some general recommendations that may be helpful to know:
Avoid smoking and consider limiting your alcohol intake, eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly (it’s also good for your mental health!), get enough sleep, and manage your stress levels.
Be proactive. Checking on your levels at recommended intervals, for example, with an at-home lab test, can benefit your health and wellness in the long run. Creating a checklist at the beginning of the year may be helpful for you to remember to schedule important health checks, complete annual screenings, and stay on top of your supplements and medication needs. Check out this blog to see what else you should include on your personal checklist.
Yes, do your research. But always consult your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about your health and wellness. The 2019 Cleveland Clinic survey showed that over 65% of men prefer to try to self-diagnose before going to the doctor. While researching can be helpful in providing important context about your health and wellness, it can also lead you down the wrong path. If you are experiencing symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns. They can help you better understand your options for the next steps. It can be dangerous to assume your symptoms or potential health issues may resolve themselves, so it’s important to be honest with yourself and your healthcare provider when you may need support in your health and wellness.
Be honest with your healthcare provider. The survey found that even if men do go to a doctor, some are holding back information for fear of judgment or to avoid uncomfortable conversations about their health and habits. If you are part of the 1 in 5 men who have not been completely honest with their doctor, consider the impacts it could have on your health and wellness in the long run. Knowing the full scope of your health concerns will help your healthcare provider make recommendations for next steps to help you feel your best.
Set reminders that can help you build habits. If you are currently taking any medications or supplements prescribed by your healthcare provider and you have a hard time remembering to take them at the recommended times, setting a reminder can be helpful. Putting up sticky notes around the house or setting notifications on your phone can be a useful way to stay on top of your health and wellness related habits.
Encourage other men in your life to take control. 82% of men try to stay healthy to live longer for friends and family who rely on them, but only half of men actually engage in preventative care.
Sometimes, having a close friend or family member encourage us in our journey can be more impactful than a stranger or an informative article online. Normalizing conversations about the importance of health and wellness can be the first step in helping a loved one or friend get the health checks they want and need. You likely know if your loved one is more likely to respond to data like facts and figures or if you’ll be more impactful if you appeal to their emotions or a bit of both.
Men, don’t miss out on things that matter most—from birthday parties and holidays to soccer games and debate tournaments. Skipping health checks or annual visits to the doctor’s office can have serious consequences on your health and wellness. If you are experiencing symptoms or have concerns about your health, always talk to your healthcare provider, and they can help you understand next steps.
There are also easy and convenient ways for you to check on your health and wellness between visits with your primary care provider, like at-home lab testing. Everlywell offers over 30 at-home lab tests, like our Men’s Health Test, Testosterone Test, Heart Health Test, and more.
*Disclaimer: Do not use this test if you have adenomas, inflammatory bowel disease, certain hereditary syndromes, or a personal family history of colorectal cancer. Not a replacement for a colonoscopy. The test is designed to show if blood is detected in your stool, which may be associated with colorectal polyps and cancers. False positive and negative results may occur. Any positive result should be shared with your healthcare provider and followed up with a colonoscopy.