Saturday, February 20, 2010

Boys & Healthcare

We've been spending lots of time at the doctor's office lately. Boy #1 has headaches -- sometimes pretty scary, severe ones. He's also been battling strep throat and an upper respiratory infection....which means that everyone is now sniffling and coughing. Friday was the only day this week we weren't at a doctor's office. Of course, I spent part of that morning on the phone, making sure medical records were in place and ready for the next doctor's appointment -- on Monday.

Which got me thinking about boys and healthcare. Boys have plenty of health risks. They're:
  • 3 times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD
  • 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism
  • More likely to have asthma, headaches and depression, at least pre-puberty. (After puberty, girl experience more asthmatic episodes, headaches and depression than boys.)
  • More likely to experience sports injuries, after puberty

But by the time they're teens, boys rarely visit the doctor. Why? Lack of insurance is surely part of the issue; millions of American boys are uninsured. Millions more are under-insured. For them, visiting the doctor means forgoing some other necessity.

Millions of boys also believe that seeing a doctor somehow makes them less manly. Research has shown that men who embrace traditional beliefs about masculinity are 50% less likely to go to the doctor. Somehow, these men have confused strength with stupidity.

So how do we break the cycle? How do teach our boys to value their health? Any ideas?


  1. We go ourselves, and make sure they know we go and it's okay. Share our fears before we go, and our relief when we come home. And, until they're too big, we make them go too.

  2. "How do [we] teach our boys to value their health?"

    If it's linked intrisically with becoming a man, you simply can't.

    Weakness is always to be avoided according to the unwritten, all-powerful man-code. Illogical and dumb? Yes, but thanks, because that's just another mark proving our masculinity.

  3. "Stupid" is a bit harsh. Yes, sometimes I roll my eyes at my man and wish he would have his injuries seen to. Sometimes I put my foot down and drag him to the hospital. Mostly, I learn as much as I can about home remedies and first aid. But when it all boils down, I like my manly man just the way he is... and hope my own 3 boys grow up to be much like him.