Men: When should I go to the doctor?

Are you a man? Got a problem? Putting off doing anything about it? The Mix explores why men should go to the doctor more.

boy at doctors

Going to the GP doesn't make you less of a man

I’m a bloke and I don’t get sick

That lump isn’t really getting bigger, I’m sure the pain will go away, it’s only a rash… Sometimes you might, just might, need something more than bed rest and a pain killer to cure a problem.

How do I tell if I need to go to the doctor?

You should go if you’ve got pain or a problem that:

  • Won’t go away
  • Is getting worse
  • Is getting you down
  • Is an STI – no one is going to thank you if you carry on sleeping with people while you’re infectious

We also suggest asking a mate about your ailment, perhaps as though you’re talking about someone else (‘my cousin’s got this thing…’). If your mate makes ‘eeewwww’ faces, that’s a sure sign you need a trip to your local surgery.

I’m scared of the diagnosis

If you wait until you’re in a lot of pain, or you can barely walk because you’re so sick, you’re bound to feel anxious about the diagnosis. But most conditions are easily treatable, and the earlier you catch it the quicker it is to treat. If you’ve got an STI would you rather let the discharge from your penis get so bad you can’t pee when a simple dose of antibiotics could clear it up in days?

I don’t want to waste their time

Before you try and talk yourself out of it, remember there’s a reason why you’re there. You’ve got a problem that needs sorting. And besides, doctors are used to dealing with anyone from the tough guy who plays down their broken leg to the local hypochondriac who upgrades their cold to pneumonia. Nothing shocks them; they really have seen it all before.

Dealing with your doctor

Every man needs a good relationship with his doctor. You care about your computer and would get it fixed if it started playing up, so why not show yourself the same attention and respect? Your doc doesn’t have to be your best mate, but it’ll help if you try to get the best out of your appointment, rather than mumbling incoherently at the floor:

Bring notes: If you clam up when asked about your symptoms, write them down and bring them with you. It can only help your GP make a decent diagnosis, and avoids that frustrating moment when you walk out of the surgery and realise you’d forgotten to mention that lump on your testicles has got bigger, or that the irritating rash has spread to your legs.

Be frank: Your GP needs the facts if they’re going to get you sorted so don’t be shy or hide the truth. Remember that they’re used to dealing with all sorts of problems; what may be unusual or embarrassing to you won’t be to them. Even if the problem involves dropping your pants for an examination, they’re interested in seeing your symptoms not your schlong.

Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to quiz your GP about anything on your mind. Your welfare is their priority, so if you’re unhappy or uncertain about an issue relating to your treatment, speak up. If you don’t like your doctor you can ask to see someone else. You don’t have to give a reason for this.

Stay in touch: If your prescribed treatment fails to fix things in the time period advised by your GP, go back and let them know. Suffering in silence won’t make the problem go away, but another session in the surgery will help your GP pinpoint a more effective course of action.

When it’s good to open up

The sad fact is that women are four times more likely than men to turn to their GP for medical help – especially when it comes to mental illness. But men aren’t immune from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, stress and mental illness. Just to underline this point, young men in the UK are more at risk of dying by suicide than anything else.

It takes bravery to open up; to talk through your problems with your GP or a close friend. However, expressing emotions is somehow seen as a girly thing. It’s here that a whole host of problems can begin.

Putting your feelings into words doesn’t come easily to everyone. It’s especially true if you’ve not had much practice, which means much depends on your childhood background. Whatever the case, talking is one of the most effective ways to get your emotions in perspective.

Awareness that you need to open up is the key, along with just giving it a go and seeing how much better you feel. Whether you have a chat with a mate in the pub, to a heart-to-heart with your partner, or even a counselling session organised by your GP, it all helps to keep your mind in shape.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015