Males need to ‘park their pride at influenza’: go see the doctor already

By Emily Harnden

Guys don’t ask for directions and they don’t dance. They don’t cry or bake or pick up tampons for their girlfriends. The list of frighteningly stereotypical “real men don’ts” is long and often difficult to dissect, but the reason behind these cliched conundrums appears to boil down to something much simpler: pride.

Yet unlike the pre-assumed “don’ts” mentioned above, the notion that men don’t go to the doctor has recently come to bare truth in numbers.

In a study done by USA Today, men were asked a series of questions about their health and the results were more than a little befuddling (always wanted to use that word). In the survey, nearly half of the men polled between the ages of 18 and 50 admitted to not having a primary-care physician, and one third of them said they hadn’t had a check-up in over a year.

After scrolling through the comments on the article, I was more than a little puzzled. One commentator replied: “Unless I’m missing a body part or bleeding profusely, I won’t go.”

Another anonymous poster simply wrote, “I don’t like or trust doctors,” — which only begs the question: Then who do you trust with your health? Your mechanic? Your best friend’s little brother who spent a summer lifeguarding? The family pet?

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Unwilling to accept these comments as satisfactory, I asked the guys next door what the problem was. Why were men dressing up doctors as undercover boogey-men lurking behind doors with knives poised and sharpened? Their answers, if possible, were even less convincing. To sum up (and avoid profanity), both boys expressed a sort of “screw it I’ll be fine, I never get sick” attitude. An “I can take care of myself” diagnosis.

Yet, considering women live to the average age of 80 and men live statistically five years less than that (according to the 2010 Census Bureau), at some point or another, masculinity is going to have to take a back seat to the pharmacy drive-through at Walgreens.

Case in point: Two years ago, my dad fell off the roof and broke his foot landing him in enough doctors’ offices to last a lifetime. But before the shattered heel and broken foot, I couldn’t tell you when he had last stepped on a scale to get a basic check-up. It’s as if health only registers as important to many men in the I-may-never-walk-again kind of scenario (don’t worry he can).

Of course, pride isn’t the only contributing factor in the “why men don’t go to the doctor” debate. Cost, scheduling and even perhaps a small dose of fear could also be reasons why guys steer clear of the doc.

One thing is clear though: There isn’t anything manly about a full-grown male adult being dragged to the doctor by his mother. Not a thing. So before it gets to that level, guys should park their pride at influenza and pick up some antibiotics already.

_Emily is a junior in LAS._