Primary Care Physician: Men, There’s No Reason to Delay Your Checkups

Why do men delay seeing a doctor for regular checkups or important screenings? They’ve put off making an appointment for so long, men become unfamiliar with the healthcare system — compared to women who likely have been going to their doctors regularly since their early 20s, says Aldo Ribeiros, M.D., an internal medicine specialist with Baptist Health Primary Care.

Instagram Live session: Why Don’t Men Go to the Doctor?

“The reason why they’re that way is because I don’t think they’re familiar with the health system,” explained Dr. Ribeiros in a new Instagram Live session: Why Don’t Men Go to the Doctor? “Comparing them with their female counterparts, it could very well be possible that a male in their forties, maybe even the fifties, is seeing me for the first time. And it’s the first time they stepped foot into inside a doctor’s office.”

Dr. Ribeiros was joined on the IG Live by host Frankie Ruiz, Miami Marathon founder and chief running office at Life Time; content creator and fitness enthusiast Sharonda Stewart; and community leader Marvin Tapia.

Much has been discussed about men’s reluctance to visit their doctor regularly. Men are half as likely as women to go to the doctor over a two-year period, according to survey data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The top reasons cited in surveys are: They’re too busy, afraid of what the doctor may find or simply have a “probe-a-phobia,” referring to the digital-rectal exam that helps diagnose prostate health. But men should not let the prospect of this one test stop them from getting all the benefits of an annual physical, says Dr. Ribeiros

And prostate health, as important as it is for men over 40, is only one reason to see a doctor. There are many more.

“When it comes to men and their health concerns, a lot of times they suffer from a lot of the same health conditions that women do — heart disease, obesity, diabetes, all of these things,” explains Dr. Ribeiros. “Sometimes, these conditions are present even at a greater rate in men. I think you shouldn’t look any further than cardiovascular health — that should be the No. 1 priority.”

Because they miss out more often on medical checkups or screenings, men are more likely to come down with heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. men, all age groups considered.

“It’s no secret that’s the No. 1 cause of death in men,” says Dr. Ribeiros. “So, the doctor visits should be really tailored into preventative medicine when it comes to the cardiovascular health. Screening for obesity, asking about their exercise activity, asking about how they eat, or at least inform them or educate them about healthy eating, screening them for cholesterol, and how they’re managing their blood sugars.”

And, by the way, Dr. Ribeiros would like to remind men who have “probe-a-phobia” that you can be screened for prostate cancer with a blood test, the PSA (prostate-specific antigen). “You could screen for prostate cancer with a blood test — if it’s something that needs to be done.”

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