The real ‘ma­cho thing’ is to have check-ups

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - VUYO MKHIZE

DOC­TOR’S vis­its and med­i­cal tests can raise the para­noia lev­els of even the health­i­est among us.

But it ap­pears men hate vis­it­ing the doc­tor more than women.

In the US, Dr Rid­wan Shab­sigh, head of the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Men’s Health, said in a news re­port: “Men sim­ply go less to the doc­tor, es­pe­cially for preven­tive vis­its ... and that can ex­plain why men live shorter than women, both in the US and glob­ally, and it also can ex­plain the fact that men get sicker and dis­abled ear­lier than women in their life.”

Older men seem­ingly have an even greater aver­sion to med­i­cal procedures, let alone a trip to the doc­tor.

Take med­i­cal circumcision. While its pro­tec­tion against HIV, pe­nile cancer, sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases as well as com­mon uri­nary tract in­fec­tions have been well doc­u­mented, men in their fifties and six­ties just won’t budge.

South African statis­tics show that 60% of cir­cum­ci­sions per­formed in this coun­try were on men aged 10 to 19.

“I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I vis­ited the doc­tor,” said Bethuel Man­gena, 37, a car­toon­ist. “I hate un­dress­ing in front of the doc­tor. I hate be­ing in a hos­pi­tal – I just don’t like its smell.

“Even doc­tor’s rooms have that smell – the moment you get there, it psy­cho­log­i­cally does some­thing to you and you start feel­ing sick”.

Man­gena kept abreast with his “mea­sure­ments” such as high-blood pres­sure tests, stayed ac­tive, and do­nated blood ev­ery two months – which cov­ers HIV test­ing.

“When I am sick, I go to the phar­macy and ask them what’s best to take or if I have the flu, I just use Med-Le­mon and ginger beer. The only rea­son I would go to the doc­tor is when I can’t walk,” he said.

Graphic de­signer Elvin Nethononda, 46, said not go­ing for check-ups is a “ma­cho thing”.

“We as men hate feel­ing weak. You can’t show your kids you’re sick be­cause to them, you are Su­per­man so you try to stay strong,” he said. “My cousin was di­ag­nosed with HIV and no one knew till his last days.”

Nethononda has a med­i­cal as­sess­ment ev­ery Jan­uary. “I had this friend of mine who was re­ally fit and in his late thir­ties. About four years ago, he had a stroke while driv­ing,” he said.

“Now, I ex­er­cise and eat healthily. I also do tests for HIV, prostate cancer, high-blood pres­sure – all the works.”

Nh­lanhla Phillips, 26, said: “Men don’t want to be touched by other peo­ple... a lot of men also don’t like open­ing up about per­sonal things.”

PIC­TURE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

Men seem scared to reg­u­larly visit a doc­tor or get tested.

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