Survey: Most men avoid going to doctor unless health issue is ‘severe’

LONDON — Is that men are too tough for their own good, or are they just more stubborn when it comes to calling the doctor? A recent survey found that 64% of men wouldn’t visit their physician for a health concern unless they considered it “severe.”

The survey, commissioned by men’s health and wellbeing platform Manual in the United Kingdom, was taken by 1,847 British men between the ages of 18 and 40. It showed that the average participant waits up to four weeks before seeking help for a health concern. A third of men would rather ignore the issue completely than see a doctor.

When it came to particularly personal and potentially embarrassing health issues, like erectile dysfunction (ED), respondents indicated they would rather break up with their romantic partner, avoid sex completely, or shop for solutions on the dark web before seeking professional medical help.

Half of the men surveyed said they’re afraid of not being able to perform sexually.

“A large proportion of patients are women and when men do come in, they usually find it hard to open up and have an honest conversation about their health,” says Dr. Earim Chaudry, General Practitioner and Medical Director for Manual, in a statement. “It’s important to put them at ease and reassure them that no-one is judging. What I’ve also noticed is a shift in the age of men coming in to see me, those suffering from erectile dysfunction are becoming younger.”

In spite of 84% of those polled believing that the idea of masculinity is changing and creating opportunities for men to be more open about themselves in general, more than three-quarters of the men surveyed agree that they face pressure to “be a man,” or appear tough, bottle up their emotions, and resist the urge to visit the doctor over personal medical conditions like ED.

“These are common conditions and so it’s imperative we destigmatise the conversation around these taboo topics so that men feel compelled to seek help,” says Dr. Chaudry. “Creating a safe space online will help empower these men to take action sooner.”

While half of the men surveyed said they strive to take better care of their mental and physical health than they did five years ago, half also agreed they thought it was easier for women to open up about their health in medical settings.

Perhaps the key will be for men to simply be less guarded and attempt to be as forthcoming as women. The survey showed that 6 in 10 agree opening up more frequently to a doctor — and others — would encourage more men to do the same.

The survey was conducted by market research company OnePoll.