Health Network Resource for Women
What does menís health have to do with you?
Plenty! Menís health issues donít affect
only men; they have a significant impact on
everyone around them. And because women live
longer than men, they see their fathers,
brothers, sons, and husbands suffer or die
prematurely. Women are in a unique position
to be able to help fight the obstacles men
face in getting the health care they need.
The following sections offer a place to
Men's Health Network is a member of the Combined Federal
Board of Editors
Thank you to our editors for pioneering new
and better ways that women can help men lead
Founder of The Dean & Betty Gallo Prostate
Actress, Spokesperson for Menís Health
Lucy Rojo, ND, PhD, Lecturer at National
College of Natural Medicine
Gail Lowery, National Cancer Institute,
Asst. Partnership Manager
Meri Raffetto, RD, LDN,
Owner of Real Living Nutritional Services
Author of Change of Heart: The Bypass
Womenís involvement is critical in improving
the state of menís health. Women typically
pay better attention to their health than
men and can help men to adopt healthier
Some of the problems facing menís health can
be solved within an individual family with a
few simple changes. Other problems need to
be addressed by society at large and require
the support of women not only in the family,
but also as health care providers,
activists, authors, and contributors to
social values and attitudes.
Working women understand the difficulties
men face in taking time off to get to
doctorís appointments all too well. Women
can also relate to the tendency of many men
to put their familyís health above their
own. However, the obstacles men face in
admitting health problems to a doctor can be
surprising or seem strange from a female
Most men are taught from an early age to
cope quietly with pain instead of telling
others about their ailments. Being told,
either by family or peers, that big boys
donít cry over skinned knees often leads to
reluctance to seek medical attention for
health afflictions decades later, especially
if symptoms are related to sexual health or
not plainly visible.
Signs to Watch For
Women can save lives by looking for and
recognizing the signs of common health
problems affecting men. Take Ashley
Marloweís case for example: recognizing
chest pain and difficulty breathing as a
sign of heart problems, Ashley encouraged
her husband to see a doctor. He continuously
protested, but undeterred, Ashley called an
ambulance when the symptoms grew worse. Her
husband was shocked to learn that he had had
an advanced heart attack. If it hadnít been
for Ashleyís timely actions, her husbandís
life would have been in grave danger.
For a list of common illnesses affecting men
and their telltale symptoms, please visit
Blueprint for Menís Health and go to
Defense Against the Silent Killers
Not all health problems have symptoms that
will be noticeable to a manís partner. Even
men who are the picture of health can be in
a losing battle with prostate cancer,
diabetes, or other silent killers. The best
way to detect these kinds of illnesses is by
getting regular checkups.
Doctor Jean Bonhomme suggests that women try
to bring their partners into the ďfamily
health scheduleĒ if he feels that seeing a
doctor when nothing is visibly wrong is a
waste of time or money. When the father sees
the rest of family getting physicals every
August, he might be willing to join in order
to help set a good example for the children.
As inconvenient as it may be, the fact that
young women often have to go to a physician
for reproductive health issues such as birth
control, common infections, or prenatal care
means that women are aware of the need to
visit a health care provider regularly.
Although doctors suggest that men begin
getting annual Prostate Specific Antigen
(PSA) tests in their forties, men in their
twenties can take advantage of free health
screenings to form good habits and build
trust with their physician.
Monitoring the results of individual tests
is clearly important, but watching for
changes over time by comparing regular exams
that begin at an early age can be much more
telling. If your partner is not keeping
track of the test results, you can mention
that both men and women need to keep a
lookout for changes. Ask your partner to
help you review family medical history and
talk about upcoming doctorís appointments
with each other. If you have any concerns
about his health, you can ask him the day
before the appointment to ask his physician
about them. Write questions or key words
down as you talk about them, and give him
the list before he goes. He might appreciate
the concern, and getting questions ready
ahead of time can help make the most of the
trip to the doctor.
In addition to regular doctor visits,
self-checks are a crucial and easy way to
protect your and your partnerís health.
Despite their name, self-checks are much
more thorough when done by a partner. For
example, skin cancer in men is predominantly
seen on their backs, which of course, is
much easier to be seen by a partner. Getting
your partner involved in your self-checks
and being involved in his helps insure that
they become a routine.
If the men in your life continue to avoid
getting medical attention, the following
approaches may help:
1. Find health providers which have weekend
and evening appointments or have offices
close to his work.
2. Schedule simultaneous appointments for
the both of you and make fun plans to do
something together afterwards.
3. Find out whether he is more comfortable
seeing a male or female health care provider
and make sure heís seeing the one he
prefers. On a related note, try to avoid
physicians who tend to scold.
4. Recruit male friends or relatives with
good health habits to help reinforce your
5. Point out the connection between good
health and good physical and mental
performance in sports, work stamina, etc.
6. Gently remind him that his children will
be influenced by the example he sets when
forming life-long health habits.
7. Decide on an exercise routine that
involves, and is enjoyable to, the both of
you. If necessary, make the exercise out to
be something for you that you need his
support for even if itís primarily for his
8. Encourage him to celebrate Menís Health
Week by seeing a doctor about annoying
health problems or getting a thorough
check-up. You can give him the gift of
health by setting an appointment for him as
a Menís Health Week gift.
For a schedule on when and how often men and
women need to get checks for certain
cancers, high blood pressure, and other
illnesses, please visit
For a more thorough overview of menís health
issues, including a section for women,
please download the book
Blueprint for Menís Health.
To learn about the aging male issue of
enlarged prostate, visit the
Prostate Health Guide.
For a list of free and low-cost clinics
offered by Menís Health Network, please
Health Clinics Online.
For insight into the male perspective on
menís physical and mental health including
issues relating to fatherhood and
relationships, please visit Armin Brottís
The Mayo Clinicís
Guide to Resources.
Need to Know About Men's Health
Lo Que Las
Mujeres Necesitan Saber Acerca De La Salud
Women Need to Know About Men's Health:
Blueprint for Menís Health. Menís Health
Dunnewind, Stepanie. For New Fathers, A
Little Help With the Pop Quiz.
Seattle Times, Thursday, July 11, 2002; Page
Eisner, Robin. Men Avoid Going to the
Doctor, So Tell Dad on Father's Day to Go
for You. New York, June 14.
Galpren, Steve. Manhandling Health Men Come
Up Short When It Comes to Long, Healthy
Lives. Life Extension Foundation: Daily
News, The Cincinnati Post, Scripps Howard
News Service, June 11, 2001.
Lifetime Television for Women
Meyer, Michele. Why Guys Don't Go To The
Doctor. Parade; New York; Jun 9, 2002.