According to the Men’s Health Network, “there is a silent health crisis in America” as men die approximately 5 years earlier than women based on CDC data from 2014. They die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death, and they are far less likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventative services than men. Even more disturbing, depression in men is grossly undiagnosed, and this contributes to the horrifying statistic that men are 4x as likely than women to commit suicide at almost any age.
So… why are men predisposed to premature mortality and disease? Aside from the intrinsic nature of the male psychology to procrastinate and/or ignore the importance of preventative health care, there is a general lack of education and awareness of specific men’s health issues. There is a lack of well-defined men’s health public policy, and there has been limited research to determine the best practice for the provision of health services to men, including the methods of clinical practice, the nature of the clinical environment, and the techniques for presenting healthcare information. Simply, Health Services are not “male friendly” in terms of their location, accessibility, convenience, and their perceived relevance to men.
As a Urologist with a subspecialty in Men’s Sexual Health, I strongly believe that the Urologist is positioned at the epicenter of the “Men’s Health Movement”. Urologists are experts in so many relevant Men’s Health Conditions (Enlarged Prostates (BPH), Prostate Cancer (Screening with PSA and Treatment), Erectile Dysfunction, Low Testosterone, Peyronie’s Disease (Penile curvature) etc.), and I believe it is the responsibility of the Urologist to expand their scope of practice to embrace the comprehensive needs of their male patients. Certainly, this is statement is not meant to discredit the importance and need for primary care physicians; however, many men who have not properly assessed the health care system are primarily drawn to the urologist due to sensitive urologic health issues. In this scenario, a Urologist can become the “gatekeeper”, evaluating the male patient in a more comprehensive fashion or referring the patient to his primary care physician for his general health care needs.
In an effort to become active in the fight against this Silent Men’s Health Care Crisis, I have become an active member of the American Society for Men’s Health (ASMH) and the Men’s Health Network (MHN). For more information, go to asmhnet.org or menshealthnetwork.org