Men may be more likely to visit their GP as they age and accumulate a few more health complaints but they may not mention their reproductive health problems. So say men's health specialists in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Dr Carol Holden, CEO of Andrology Australia at Melbourne's Monash University, led a study into middle-aged and older Australian men's help-seeking behaviour for reproductive health disorders.
AdvertisementThe likelihood that a man will have a prostate test increases with age, the study found, but falls for men who have never married or are divorced or separated.
Almost half the 5,990 men surveyed had undergone a test for prostate cancer, but just 11 per cent had sought treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) - representing significantly fewer men than studies would suggest suffer from the condition.
Men living in regional or remote areas are less likely to seek treatment for ED, the study found, as are men from a non-English speaking background.
"Reproductive health problems are often not explicitly discussed with a health professional," Dr Holden said.
"Many of the oldest men regard (ED) as a normal part of ageing."
However ED can also be an indicator of diabetes and cardiovascular disease - Dr Holden said education campaigns drawing the link between ED and these diseases could help convince men to seek treatment for erectile problems.
Dr Holden said doctors should be encouraged to actively enquire about a male patient's reproductive health, irrespective of the man's age or sexual desire.
The drivers and barriers to men's help-seeking behaviour and health service use for reproductive health disorders need to be better understood to assist in the development of health promotion, services and education strategies to ensure men receive comprehensive health care, she said.
"Community education strategies that raise awareness and understanding of male reproductive health disorders will help reduce the stigma ... and reinforce help-seeking behaviour," Dr Holden said.