For patients 
June 28, 2024

Breaking the Silence: How Social Stigmas Impact Men’s Health

Men’s health is in crisis.

According to the CDC, over 40% of men aged 20 and older suffer from obesity and 1 in 2 men in the US suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure). Each year, approximately 350,000 men die from cardiovascular disease and 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer – the first and second leading causes of death in men, respectively. It is no surprise then, that a 2023 study found that life expectancy for men in the U.S. has fallen to 73 years — six years fewer than for women, and often from preventable causes or conditions.

Proactive care, namely prevention, early detection and timely intervention, is crucial for managing many of these health conditions. However, men aged 20-40 are less likely to make doctor appointments, which puts them at higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease or cancer. Of the more than 700,000 men diagnosed with cancer each year; 300,000 of those cases will result in death when it could have been caught and treated earlier.

This Men’s Health Month, it is time to break down societal stigmas that prevent men from seeking necessary medical care. At DocGo we want to help motivate and support men of all ages to prioritize regular healthcare check-ups by providing accessible, confidential, and comprehensive healthcare services.

Stoicism, Fear and Masculinity: The Power of Social Stigmas

Social stigmas, the societal pressure and negative stereotypes that discourage men from seeking medical advice, significantly impact health behaviors, often deterring individuals from seeking timely medical help. For men, these stigmas can manifest in various ways.

Many men are conditioned to believe that showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness, leading them to ignore symptoms and avoid discussing health concerns. Fear of being perceived as hypochondriacs can prevent men from scheduling regular checkups or addressing minor health issues. Issues related to sexual health and male virility are also often seen as taboo, making men reluctant to seek help for conditions like erectile dysfunction, colon cancer, or prostate problems.

In a recent survey by the Cleveland Clinic, 65% of respondents said they avoid going to the doctor as long as possible, and 37% said they had withheld information from their doctors in the past, specifically because they were not ready to deal with the potential diagnosis. These stigmas can have serious consequences, preventing men from scheduling checkups, delaying diagnosis and treatment, and exacerbating health issues.

We Need To Talk

While often neglected or unreported, mental health is one of the most stigmatized health issues affecting men. Traditional socialization of masculinity has made many men feel that their masculine identity conflicts with their emotions. Men are disproportionately affected by Alexithymia (the inability to share emotions or difficulty explaining one’s emotional experience in words), and it can create turmoil in both personal and professional relationships. The unwillingness or inability to discuss mental health deprives men of the proactive care necessary for physicians and therapists to make timely interventions and prevent the worst outcomes.

Depression and suicide are leading causes of death among men, yet they are far less likely to seek mental health treatment than women. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2022 men died by suicide 3.85 times more than women. Mental Health America reports that 6 million men in the United States are affected by depression every year. Men are also more likely to turn to substance abuse as a form of self medication, with men two to three times more likely to misuse drugs than women. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 62,000 men die annually from alcohol-related causes, compared to 26,000 women.

Proactive Care Saves Lives

Beyond mental health, men are also more likely than women to suffer from preventable chronic diseases, such as colon cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the United States for 2024, men will account for over half of new colon cancer cases and nearly 60% of new rectal cancer cases. It is vital for men over 40 to get colon cancer screenings, as early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment.

Once the cancer has spread outside the colon, survival rates drop considerably, highlighting the importance of proactive assessment and intervention. Statistics show that the five-year relative survival rate for colon cancer is about 90% when the cancer is found at an early stage before it has spread. However, only about 40% of colon cancers are detected at this early stage, underscoring the need for increased awareness and screening. This pattern of late detection and preventable outcomes extends beyond colon cancer to other common health concerns for men, including heart disease and prostate cancer.

Overcoming Stigma and Helping Men Prioritize Health

DocGo is dedicated to creating a comfortable and confidential environment for men to discuss their health concerns, both mental and physical. Our services are designed to address the challenges men face in seeking healthcare, including societal pressures, time constraints, and lack of awareness. DocGo offers convenient in-home appointments to eliminate the need for travel and long wait times by providing mobile healthcare services at your doorstep.

Men’s health is not just about treating illness but about promoting overall well-being and preventive care. Regular check-ups, a balanced diet, and staying active are essential for a healthy and fulfilling life.” states Colin Limbach, Lead Advanced Practice Provider (APP) and Physician Assistant (PA-C), DocGo

Our team of experienced, qualified healthcare professionals can address a wide range of men’s health concerns, ensuring comprehensive care. Additionally, we offer features such as lab test ordering and medication reminders to raise awareness and promote ongoing health management. Our proactive care services include blood tests, colon cancer screenings and lung cancer screening if required. DocGo’s commitment to patient confidentiality ensures that men can discuss sensitive health issues without fear of judgment or breach of privacy, often from the comfort of their own home.

Breaking the Cycle of Stigma

This Men’s Health Month, remember early detection and intervention can be the difference between life and death. The current crisis in men’s health, marked by high rates of obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, underscores the urgent need for proactive care. Social stigmas and stereotypes around masculinity significantly deter men from discussing and addressing their health concerns.

The fear of judgment can be a significant barrier, but talking to an impartial professional like your primary care provider or therapist can make a difference, as they listen without judgment. By offering in-home appointments and a supportive environment, DocGo helps men prioritize their health and engage in early detection and intervention, regardless of whether it is for physical or mental health. “Prioritizing your health today can lead to a stronger, more resilient tomorrow,” Limbach emphasizes. DocGo is committed to breaking the cycle of stigma by providing accessible, confidential, and comprehensive healthcare solutions. Together, we help men take charge of their health.