Most men like to put up a tough front. But they are still just as sensitive as anyone else. Ignoring that reality can lead to health risks and many men do so.
Members of the "stronger sex" often expect a lot from their bodies, but do not heed its warning signals. Many only consult a doctor when it's too late and could spare themselves a lot of agony with preventative check-ups.
AdvertisementGerman men have a life expectancy of around 76 years, compared to 81 years for German women. Between ages 30 and 64, men die at twice the rate of women according to a report by Berlin's Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Men are much less likely to seek preventative treatment than women and tending to consult a doctor only when they are in pain.
"Women live in their bodies. Men use their bodies like a tool, and then don't take care of it," says Frank Sommer, of the University of Hamburg, which has Germany's only chair for men's health studies.
Experts say that men cause many of their health problems themselves.
Male Germans are more likely to be overweight than their female counterparts. Men also smoke and drink more and take more illegal drugs than women, according to the Gender Data Report from the German Family Ministry. Men also have more serious accidents and commit suicide more often than women.
Women do suffer from depression at higher rates than men, says Peter Falkai, director of the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Göttingen. But society seems to accept that. Additionally, women have healthier strategies for dealing with their problems.
"They talk more to one another about problems. Men keep it bottled up."
So, what should men do? Sommer recommends regular check-ups.
"Men should keep an eye on their risk factors," says Falkai, adding, "After all, they regularly take their cars in for inspections."
Men should be especially careful with gender-specific illnesses.
"Women regularly check their breasts, so men should do the same with their testicles, " says Sommer. Testicular cancer, which affects 4,300 men annually in Germany, is treatable as long as it is detected in time.
Prostate cancer is more dangerous and is one of the most common cancers in men. The RKI says about 50,000 cases are reported annually. Sommer recommends regular check-ups starting on the 45th birthday.
Other men's diseases, like erectile dysfunction, should also be brought to a doctor's attention as soon as possible.
"Not because it's a sexual problem, but when the blood vessels leading to the penis are contracted, it can indicate a possible heart attack," Sommer says.
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