Whether it’s an ache that just won’t budge or you’re out of breath a bit more than usual — it’s common for men to monitor a health concern and wait to see if it gets worse before getting help. Often that’s because blokes don’t think that what they’re dealing with is severe enough, it’s not interrupting their daily life or they’re too busy to put their health first.
Sure, you might be lucky enough to see your niggle resolve itself but delaying a trip to the doctor can often have dire consequences. Aussie men have a higher rate of poor health in a range of troubling areas. They make up the majority of premature deaths, have a lower life expectancy, a higher rate of suicide, and double the rate of heart disease, to name a few of them.
It’s important to see a doctor at the first sign something is off and take a proactive attitude towards your health (and not just what you think is serious) by getting regular check-ups.
You wouldn't skip a car service
Knowing when to have your car checked is no different to keeping your body in peak condition. Visiting your GP is like a maintenance check on your own machinery — better to catch a timing belt rattle, a wheel bearing rumble or a sudden drop-off in your vehicle’s performance before it leads to worse problems, takes longer to solve or becomes too worn out to fully fix.
Many men see a GP only as needed, rather than planning a visit on a regular basis. A study of over 13,000 Aussie men found that only 39% reported having an annual health check at their GP, which could be a missed opportunity for discovering overlooked symptoms and discussing other concerns. There are also some health screenings to keep in mind as you get older, to catch any concerns before they’re too late to fix.
Book a tune-up
There are a few things you can do to get the most out of your GP appointment and ensure you’re getting a consistent service.
- Find a doctor you trust, you don’t have to stick with your childhood GP for life.
- Book a non-negotiable, yearly check-up, whether or not you have issues to discuss.
- Ask for a longer appointment so you can go through each concern on your list.
When we delay getting information from a health professional, minor issues can become major. It's important to take action as soon as you notice something isn't quite right so you can get back to your best health. To learn more about the different health checks you need at each stage of life, visit malehealth.org.au.
 Adam PCG, de Wit JBF, Ketsuwan I, Treloar C (2019) Sexual health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices of young people in Australia. Results from the 2018 Debrief Survey among heterosexual and non-heterosexual respondents. (Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney: Sydney, NSW, Australia)
 Smith JA, Braunack-Mayer A, Wittert G, Warin M (2008) ‘‘It’s sort of like being a detective’’: understanding how Australian men self-monitor their health prior to seeking help. BMC Health Services Research doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-56