Men: When should I go to the doctor?
Are you a man? Got a problem? Thinking ‘should I go to the doctor’ but putting off doing anything about it? The Mix explores why men with health issues often put off going to the doctor, and when they really should go.
Trigger warning: This article contains references to suicide and eating disorders.
I’m a bloke and I don’t get sick
That lump isn’t really getting bigger, I’m sure the chest 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. Everyone gets sick, and if you’re sick it’s often best to listen to the warning signs your body sends you and book an appointment with your GP. If you’re not registered with a GP then it’ll be a lot easier to put off, so read our article on finding a doctor here.
Should I 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
I’m scared of the diagnosis
If you wait until you’re in a lot of pain, you’ve got a shortness of breath 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? And trust us, the doctor has seen far, far worse problems than yours.
See our article on coping with anxiety for more help.
I don’t want to waste the doctor’s time
Before you try and talk yourself out of it, remember there’s a reason why you’re there. Yes doctors are busier than ever these days, but you’ve got a problem that needs sorting. And besides, doctors are used to dealing with all manner of conditions. Nothing shocks them; they really have seen it all before.
I don’t like my doctor
If you’re not enthusiastic about going to see your doctor because you’ve had a bad experience, that’s perfectly understandable. But don’t be put off, the vast majority of doctors have the best of intentions for all of their patients and really want to make a difference. You could either look for a different GP in your area or read our article on how to complain about a GP to get a resolution.
How to deal with your doctor
Everyone needs a good relationship with their 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. Here are some top tips.
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 the lump on your testicles has got bigger, or that the irritating rash has spread to your legs. By the way, if you’ve got aching testicles or other testicle problems, read this.
Your GP needs the facts if they’re going to get you sorted, so don’t be shy or hide the truth. If you have any risk factors in your family, like a history of high blood pressure, mention them. Remember that doctors are 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.
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.
If you’re not sure what type of doctor to see for your ailment, start with our guide for when to see a doctor.
Do not be embarrassed to talk about your feelings with your doctor
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 thing to be ashamed of. 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, 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. The Mix also offers free counselling sessions, which you can find out more about here.
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By The Mix Staff
Updated on 15-Nov-2022
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