When it comes to being proactive about their health, men are useless.
How do I know this?
I have been suffering from a bad back for about a month now. Okay, it’s by no means life threatening, but for a 23-year-old who should be at the peak of his physical prime, my predicament is not ideal.
But have I done anything about it yet?
Instead, I wave away advice from my mum and sister about seeing a doctor.
“I’m fine,” I say.
I am not fine. As I write this I have a constant numbness in my right buttock and I know that the next time I decide to move, it will be yet another lesson in pain management.
And my reluctance to act on my current situation is indicative of the British man’s attitude when it comes to dealing with his own health.
Whether it’s because of some macho idea that admitting illness shows weakness, or that we simply prioritise other things, the inability of men to act on their own health concerns seems to be ingrained in our cultural psyche, and more worryingly, it is costing lives.
Just look at prostate cancer. A disease that attacks exclusively males, it kills one man every hour in the UK.
It is often treatable if caught in its early stages, but a lack of obvious symptoms means that sufferers are sometimes unaware of the cancer until it has developed to an inoperable state, making it imperative for men to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to the disease.
According to studies from Prostate Cancer UK, 90 per cent of GPs do not always initiate potentially life-saving discussions about prostate disease.
And this puts even further emphasis on men to take their health into their own hands.
Owen Sharp, head of the group, says: “Men are dying through ignorance and we have to change that, give them answers, and help them to engage in their own health.”
Last weekend, Prostate Cancer UK launched a new campaign called Men United, encouraging Britain’s men to be more proactive about their health.
Using football as a motivator, it is hoped that the campaign will persuade men to get checked for cancer before it develops.
And it is initiatives like this that should be encouraged to break down the taboo around men’s health, not just in terms of cancer, but also in terms of the wider health and wellbeing of the UK’s male population.
A culture needs to be created where men are more open, aware and able to act on health concerns before they become serious.
After all, we have a National Health Service that is free to use and hundreds of groups willing to give support and advice to anybody with health worries.
It is just about getting men to use them.
So, paying heed to my own advice, I have booked an appointment at the doctor’s for Thursday. If you have any worries, you should, too.
You never know: it might save your life.