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Survey: Men Putting Off Mental, Physical Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

Men tend to be less likely than women to go to the doctor, according to health officials, and a new survey released by the Cleveland Clinic found the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated this ongoing problem.

Nearly half of the more than 1,000 men surveyed nationwide reported putting off seeing a doctor for non-COVID-19 related health issues over the last few months, said Dr. Petar Bajic, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Men are less inclined to go to the doctor when experiencing symptoms – or even for regular checkups, which was already a concern before the pandemic, Bajic said.

“A lot of the [health] issues men might experience later on in life can be related to… things they may not be super keen on talking about,” he said. “However, it’s really important for them to realize these are sometimes the first signs of something more serious going on.”

Bajic cited urinary and sexual dysfunction as examples of often-ignored symptoms, which he said can be early signs of more serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“It’s important to go get checked out. Even though there’s a pandemic going on, it still remains safe to go to the hospital,” he said.

Forty percent of the men surveyed said they were struggling to stay healthy overall during the over the past few months, he said, but 22 percent reported exercising more and 19 percent said they were eating healthier.

The pandemic has also affected men’s mental health, Bajic said. About three in five men surveyed said COVID-19 had a greater negative impact on their mental health than the 2008 recession, he said.

And 66 percent of those surveyed said they “rarely talk” about the impact COVID-19 has had on their mental health, he said.

“Any of us who know men know that men are not great about talking about their feelings, so to some degree there’s no surprise there,” Bajic said. “It’s really important for men to just, kind of, get the message that it’s important to talk these things through. You need to bring it to light. There’s always help and support available.”

The pandemic has increased access to telemedicine, and Bajic pointed to virtual visits as another option for men who may be struggling with opening up about their mental health.

For the study, Cleveland Clinic surveyed 1,180 American males aged 18 and older, online, with the goal of finding out how the pandemic has affected men’s mental and physical health.

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.

Anna joined ideastream in 2019, where she reports on health news for WCPN and WVIZ in Cleveland. She has also served as an associate producer for NewsDepth. Before that, Anna was a 2019 Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.