Five years. The length of time a woman in the U.S. will outlive their male counterpart. Though a man may be bigger, stronger, and faster, when it comes to health and wellness, men are the weaker sex.
Men have higher rates of injuries, more toxic exposures, and die earlier in life more often than women. Many men in their late teens and twenties go a “testosterone storm,” of volatile hormone level swings. Often resulting dangerous behavior among young men. Since men are also less likely to seek health care when sick or injured, treatment delay often result in slower recoveries and longer lasting consequences.
All of us know men who have ignored or minimized symptoms for long periods of time, missing out on the opportunity to treat illness when it is best treated early. Much of this is cultural and societal. The image of the “manly” man who suffers in silence, the stoicism associated with masculinity, the fear of showing weakness all contribute to these disparities. Women become acclimated to going to physician for routine preventative care via Pap smears and mammograms, while there is no corresponding activity for males. Unless it is causing them severe pain or interfering with their job, many males will avoid the doctor’s office. Women’s Health departments are commonplace in many hospitals – Men’s Health departments are not.
So how can we help minimize this disparity? The first is acknowledging that men perceive health and the act of seeking help differently than women do. We can encourage our loved ones to pay a little more attention to their symptoms and help reduce the barriers to care whether they be mental, societal, or cultural. Visit the primary care doctor, the specialist, or the urgent care office to address that nagging complaint, and close the five year gap!