Doctor: Men shouldn’t feel shame when it comes to speaking up about health concerns

June is National Men's Health Month
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 10:36 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - On average, men die at higher rates from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries and COVID-19, according to provisional data and research from the Centers for Disease Control,

A doctor at Aspirus Health said historically speaking, men have been shamed when it comes to speaking up about things that are bothering them. Dr. Nebasi Valantine, a family medicine physician at Aspirus Health said that is happening even when men want to express something that they’re dealing with because they feel embarrassed.

“The human aspect of you know, man is not well expressed or well recognized by the men themselves, that OK, you know, what, I am a human being, like every other person, I get dragged down, and I can deal with this. And they are not comfortable being vulnerable,” Dr. Valantine said.

He said these feelings can lead to a domino effect and there are many aspects that contribute to the higher death rate. For example, when and if they take on more life stressors, men are more inclined to involve themselves in high-risk activities.

“They smoke more, they drink more... If they don’t see a doctor, they don’t get the preventable vaccines for things that are available. They don’t get screened for cancers that didn’t get caught on early and were left untreated. So there are a lot of reasons why they get the short end of the stick when it comes to these diseases,” he explained. “It is very important that link up with a primary care physician, like me to be able to prevent some things that we can prevent cancer such as colon cancer, or different things, there are a lot of things that we can do to prevent the long term effects of it such as chemotherapy.”

Dr. Valantine said he thinks the way providers look at men’s health needs to change.

“We have to take away some stigma and it takes work to break the stigma. A lot of men don’t talk about depression, or anxiety, because they look like they should be the stronger wing of the family and they should not be able to feel down and different things, they should just shake it off,” he explained. “Mental health is a very, very important part of health. And it should be considered like any diabetes, or hypertension that we treat. And you know, men should not feel embarrassed or feel like they are weaker by expressing [how they feel]. I think that’s an aspect of health that they are really lacking. And that takes a toll because the blood pressure goes up then everything else follows when they are depressed.”

When people skip routine visits, they are missing regular health screenings, vaccines, advice, cholesterol tests, and cancer screenings.

He said at the end of the day, their job as doctors are to make sure every community member is in the best health they could possibly be in.

“If the health is not in good standing now then you know, production, everything else, life expectancy, quality of life, everything goes down.”

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