Women become involved in men’s health for three reasons: they are used to making the healthcare decisions in their families, they tend to know the most about health and the healthcare system, and men’s health affects their own health and way of life.
First, most women see themselves playing a role in their partner’s health. Women traditionally—and still today—take on the role of care giver for their family. They coordinate care of their children and sometimes their parents. And they also do it for their husbands. It is very common for the wife to set up the doctor’s appointment—to be the recognizer of symptoms.
Second, women tend to know more about health than men and to be more active about prevention and treatment. Many women become experienced health care consumers through years of pelvic examinations as well as through taking children to the doctor The monthly period and breast self-examination also help women become attuned to their bodies. Probably most importantly, most women don’t see their bodies as invincible or have trouble admitting heath problems or weaknesses.
Finally, women become involved in men’s health because they are concerned about their own well-being and the general happiness at home!
So how to help?
Understand the male approach to health.
The first step is to learn about common male feelings of fear, embarrassment, and above all, invincibility.
Educate yourself about male health problems.
Before you can help the man, you need to learn about his particular health concerns. Share what you learn with your partner. Pass along the book or the article. The fact is, some men need to be prodded along to pay attention to their health.
Watch for signs and symptoms.
If a flashing red light goes off in a man’s car, chances are he will take it in for service right away. But when a warning sign goes off in his body, he may well ignore it. Women can help by knowing which symptoms are flashing red lights, and by encouraging the partner to have them checked out right away.
Talk about it.
Many men have trouble telling a doctor or a partner about a health symptom. A woman reported that she asked her husband where it hurt. He just said, “It hurts all over.” He didn’t have a vocabulary for expressing what was happening with his body. Help him write a list of questions for the doctor.
The average woman asks four questions during a doctor appointment; the average man asks none.
Motivate him to exercise and follow a healthy diet.
Changes in diet and exercise are often most lasting when a couple adopts them together. Also, if she does most of the shopping and cooking, she can change what he eats at home.
From an early age, men are taught to “take it like a man.” The messages from society and the media are strong, but a woman can go a long way toward changing this mentality by telling him it’s okay to show emotions, to cry, to touch, and to talk about his problems. She can also make a difference for her son by giving him these new messages when he is young.
Do you think women and men have different approaches to health? Are you the primary caregiver in your family? Or do you think men need to take more responsibility on this issue? We would love to know what you think.
Dr Joanna Martin: Founder, oneofmany.co.uk.| Author| Women’s Speaker| Entrepreneur| Ex-doctor| Loud Sister| Baby Wrangler = No professional training but do a fine job nonetheless!