File image: man getting treated by doctor

DOCTOR'S visits and medical tests can raise the paranoia levels of even the healthiest among us.
But it appears men hate visiting the doctor more than women.

In the US, Dr Ridwan Shabsigh, head of the International Society of Men’s Health, said in a news report: “Men simply go less to the doctor, especially for preventive visits ... and that can explain why men live shorter than women, both in the US and globally, and it also can explain the fact that men get sicker and disabled earlier than women in their life.”

Older men seemingly have an even greater aversion to medical procedures, let alone a trip to the doctor.

Take medical circumcision. While its protection against HIV, penile cancer, sexually transmitted diseases as well as common urinary tract infections have been well documented, men in their fifties and sixties just won’t budge.

South African statistics show that 60% of circumcisions performed in this country were on men aged 10 to 19.

“I can’t remember the last time I visited the doctor,” said Bethuel Mangena, 37, a cartoonist. “I hate undressing in front of the doctor. I hate being in a hospital - I just don’t like its smell.

"Even doctor’s rooms have that smell - the moment you get there, it psychologically does something to you and you start feeling sick”.

Mangena kept abreast with his “measurements” such as high-blood pressure tests, stayed active, and donated blood every two months - which covers HIV testing.

“When I am sick, I go to the pharmacy and ask them what’s best to take or if I have the flu, I just use Med-Lemon and ginger beer. The only reason I would go to the doctor is when I can’t walk,” he said.

Graphic designer Elvin Nethononda, 46, said not going for check-ups is a “macho thing”.

“We as men hate feeling weak. You can’t show your kids you’re sick because to them, you are Superman so you try to stay strong," he said. "My cousin was diagnosed with HIV and no one knew till his last days.”

Nethononda has a medical assessment every January. “I had this friend of mine who was really fit and in his late thirties. About four years ago, he had a stroke while driving," he said.

"Now, I exercise and eat healthily. I also do tests for HIV, prostate cancer, high-blood pressure - all the works."

Nhlanhla Phillips, 26, said: “Men don’t want to be touched by other people... a lot of men also don’t like opening up about personal things."