Why are males so reluctant to seek a doctor's help even when they know something is seriously wrong?

I have a couple elderly male friends who are both widowers and dying of cancer. One has cancer of the liver and the other has advanced rectal/colon cancer. They do not want to talk about it. At this point they would rather not even have contact with others, which is sad. Neither will consider treatment.

There terminal situations have caused me to reflect on our mortality and the shortness of our lives. One thing that came to mind was that the preponderance of men in our society will avoid and evade going to seek professional help when things go wrong with their health. Why the reluctance on the part of men? My dear Mom just drove a couple hundred miles to get her blood work done (about every 3 months) and talk to her physician about her arthritis. She is relatively healthy and is constantly having tests done to nip any problems in the bud before they have a chance to develop. A very proactive attitude I suppose.

So why does it seem that men are more resigned to accept what fate throws at them and not take action?

I did have a recent colonoscopy but only after much bitching from my Mom and wife. 

Is my perception correct about the reluctance of men when it comes to getting in the car and actually going to the hospital?

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I'd assume it has something to do with not wanting to appear weak to others, even to a doctor. Going out for treatment implies we're not able to "suck it up" and "take it like a man". It's a cultural thing I'd guess.

For some, death is preferable to extending one's life with painful and agonizing procedures.

I'd heard the opposite, that it was women who didn't address medical issues. So I got curious.

I just did a cursory search and it seems that both claims exist. For women, they say it's because they spend so much time taking care of others that they just ignore their own needs. I don't know why men do it.

That is so sad.  I'm sorry to hear about your friends, Ed. 


My Dad isn't that bad about caring for himself, but after a year of reminders, poking, prodding, and polite requests, we had to threaten to tell his mom and brothers in order to get him to have a cancer screening (thankfully it was negative).  He routinely forgets to take his medicines too.   


Strength is one thing, but when your body finally fails you, what are you holding out for


...I think it has to do with needing to feel independent, self-determined, and stoic.    

I agree with AbuMaia, except I would say it is more psychological than cultural. I think that guys want to be the "alpha male" and may think that because they don't seek treatment they are stronger than their competition. 

I think this nation has turned into one of hypochondriacs. At the slightest sign of illness, we rush our kids (or ourselves) off to the doctor. For most healthy people, illness is not (or should not be) a reason to see the physician. Our body has an immune system that is capable of combating most things that we encounter. Now that there is a pill for almost every conceivable symptom, we’ve bought into the idea that drugs can and will cure anything. By visiting the doctor, most of us are looking for that easy fix, that magic pill that will make all the problems go away.


I personally only go to the doctor only when there is something I know I am unable to manage by myself. I don’t go for every bump, bruise, sniffle, sneeze, headache, upset stomach, etc. That’s a bit excessive. I have no problem asking for help when I need it, but I’m willing to endure an extra day or two of discomfort to let me body take care of itself.


Is it that men are less willing to go to the doctor to address serious illness, or that we simply appear to be  because, perhaps women are more willing to go to the doctor for the slightest reason?


As for the men in your story, if their condition is truly terminal, perhaps they’ve simply accepted their situation knowing that there is nothing medicine can do to cure them.



Obviously people don't in general run to the doctor's office for sneezes and sniffles. I am talking about the guy who has gone a year with that blood in his stools and deep down knows should be looked at by a professional. But they don't. Instead what could of been a correctable condition is often times shrugged off for months on end until the disease/problem is exacerbated to a potentially life ending situation. It makes no sense to me. I am gonna get my butt (no pun intended) to the doc's office. I have but one shot at existence and I wanna stick around a lot longer.  :^ ) 

I suppose it could be cultural, since throughout the majority of human history those who are more masculine are expected to be less dependent (as dependency is thought to be a female characteristic). Are there any cultures that don't have that general inclination?


"I'm alright honey! Bleeding from six holes in the head doesn't hurt, and anyway, I'm not in a coma!"

"Are there any cultures that don't have that general inclination?"


Maybe the French....just kidding.


I had an unfortunate accident when felling a huge tree on my property a couple years ago. The tree bucked backwards off the stump and, while still standing upright, landed on top of my foot. I had to pull with all my strength to get my foot out before the tree went over. Needless to say the weight of a 60 foot oak tree did a number on my foot. But in my stubbornness I would not go the doctor. My reasoning was that there is not a lot the doc can do with a crushed foot. It basically has to heal itself hopefully. It took about 3 months for all the dead blood cells to work it's way out through my toes. That was weird watching my toes turn purple as the blood migrated out from the injury. My refusal to go to the doctor certainly pissed my wife and mother off. But six months later I was back to normal for the most part. I do have a sizable scar on my shin where I had to rip my foot out from under the tree. I am lucky and learnt a valuable lesson about the unpredictability of tree felling.

Is it pride?


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