Straight in, straight out, with little time to chat to a doctor

Comment: Dr Bob Baker
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Men get more serious illnesses and die younger than women - partly because they are much less willing to visit the doctor early enough.

Men get more serious illnesses and die younger than women - partly because they are much less willing to visit the doctor early enough.

The difference between the sexes is striking. Many men think it is a sign of weakness to solicit help and when they attend the surgery they are much less talkative about their health than women. Men want to get straight in and out of the GP's consulting room. They come in with an agenda while women are more open and will chat about the problem. In doing so, they may find that the real problem is different to the one they came in with.

Women are also much more likely to seek help early when they are ill. But men can wait until symptoms are severe. Some tend not to consult a doctor until their partners bully them into going or their illness becomes impossible to ignore. More and more men are affected by prostate and testicular cancers, which can be easily treated if detected early but fatal if ignored.

Sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia and syphilis, are also on the increase but men do not know enough about the symptoms or how they can be carriers and make women infertile.

Men are often ashamed of urino-genital problems and, even with more common illnesses such as heart disease, men will have more severe symptoms than women before they go to see their GP.

This mentality is changing as men become more aware of their health and machismo wanes a bit. The appearance of men's health magazines is a good sign. But any campaign to raise awareness of men's health issues and break down the barriers that stop men seeking help is welcome.

Dr Bob Baker is a hospital doctor who has worked as a general practitioner

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