According to research, men in Britain go and see their doctors 20 per cent less than women. And it's generally not because they have less of a reason to go. Not being satisfied with doctors, not having enough time to make an appointment or embarassment and fear about their symptoms are all reasons why men put off getting their ailments checked out.
This is where you can come in to give your other half a nudge in the right direction and encourage them to take control of their health.
How to broach the subject
Men's health issues can sometimes be a sensitive and daunting topic to approach. But Tom Kallis, a Boots pharmacist, has some helpful tips on how you can raise the subject with your man.
- Get into his mind set - When it comes to their health, some men might see themselves as someone who just doesn't get ill. So when a health issue does occur, it can cause a lot of fear, anxiety and in some cases, embarassment. It’s important to recognise these feelings in them beneath any bravado or nonchalance, so you can address the issue in the right tone.
- Pick the right moment - Let’s face it, bringing up concerns about your partner's health in the middle of an argument is only likely to make matters worse. So picking a time that is right in a relaxed and reassuring environment is so important.
For example, if it's a sexual health problem you want to address, not making eye contact can actually help to reduce embarrassment or awkwardness so raising the issue when out for a drive in the car could work well. Although you’re sitting together and able to have a conversation, one of you needs to keep your eye on the road so can legitimately avoid eye contact and reduce the awkwardness of the conversation.
- Coax, don’t push - Try to gently encourage your husband or partner into talking about their health concerns first, rather than telling him what you think. Inviting him to say what he's thinking and feeling out loud can help him to realise the situation is real and needs to be seen to. By showing that you’re listening, you can then help and influence him to make a decision to do something about the problem.
- Don’t take it personally – If your partner has lost interest in sex and perhaps avoids intimacy, or maybe doesn’t want to talk to you about their health concerns - try not to take it personally or jump to conclusions. Instead take it slowly and try to find another way to approach the subject.
- Explain the options- If your other half is averse to visiting the doctor, there are sometimes other options. Many men don't realise that their local pharmacist can help them to understand and treat their health issues, be it hair loss or sexual health concerns such as erectile dysfunction.
Often, in the first instance there are treatments and solutions available in-store, which can be prescribed and/or bought over the counter, meaning men who don’t have time to or don’t want to go to their GP can still get help.
And don't forget to mention blood pressure...
High blood pressure is one of the biggest "silent killers" in the UK, but it's something that's often overlooked by men.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has no symptoms and yet many people do not know that if left untreated, it increases the risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, a stroke, chronic kidney disease, or getting dementia. The risk of hypertension also goes up as men age so it's especially important to keep an eye on it later in life.
There are an estimated 5 million adults with undiagnosed high blood pressure in England, so here's how Public Health England's advice on how to make sure both you and your partner keep yours in check:
- The only way to know if you do or don't have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure tested – it could save your life.
- You can get a blood pressure check in your GP surgery, in pharmacies or by yourself with a validated home monitor. You can also get a blood pressure check as part of the NHS Health Check, which is available to adults between the ages of 40-74 in England. You can find out more information on the NHS Health Check by visiting www.healthcheck.nhs.uk.
- It’s a good idea to have your blood pressure checked at least every 5 years– more often if you are at higher risk, for example if you are overweight or have a family history.
- You can lower your blood pressure naturally just by making simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet (including eating less salt), getting active and cutting down on alcohol. This will also do wonders to reduce your risk of developing some serious long-term health problems such as heart attacks and stroke.
There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.