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The Male Room

with Sheldon Marks, MD

Men's health is a growing field. Dr. Sheldon Marks shares advice and information on men's health issues, from prostate problems to hair loss, as well as fitness and nutrition.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why Don’t Men Take Better Care of Themselves?

When men are young, they think they’re going to live forever – nothing’s going to get in their way. That’s why young guys do stupid things; they think it’s not going to hurt them. Why are teenagers promiscuous in the face of HIV, hepatitis C and all those other diseases? Because they think it will happen to somebody else but it won’t happen to them.

As men get older they get into this pattern of reactive care. They don’t understand about proactive health care. They don’t understand that that’s their body for life, that they have to be in tune with their body and take care of it, and if they do, the quality of their life experience will be dramatically improved. When men do abusive things, when they drink too much, take drugs, are overweight, then that has an impact on them. They don’t realize that that “never happening to me,” changes to “it will happen”, and then it’s just around the corner. By then it’s often too late.

By the time men become aware that it’s too late, they’ve lived through years of abusive behaviors. They’ve eaten the wrong foods, they’ve had too much to drink, they smoke, have hypertension, diabetes, liver disorders, and cholesterol problems. Those are the guys, you read about: people in their 40s and 50s who suddenly get a heart attack and die or have a massive stroke. It doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it’s random bad luck but sometimes it’s things they’ve been doing all these years.

Women, on the other hand, are programmed by society to be into preventative health. They go to the OB-GYN young in life. They go to the doctor for checkups. Women are the leaders in health care in this country. Almost all of the health care decisions are driven by women. On WebMD, many who post on the men’s health message board are women asking the questions for their husbands or boyfriends.

You have to wonder, if it’s about blood in the semen, or erection disorders, or pain or lumps or bumps, why the guy isn’t there asking the question himself? It’s because that’s not what guys do. I don’t know whether it’s fear or denial, or maybe they don’t value themselves enough, but the wives are the ones that will go online and ask the questions.

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Posted by: Sheldon Marks, MD at 5:45 pm

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