“No doctor for me”: How toxic masculinity destroys men’s health

A new study found that toxic masculinity has a devastating effect on men’s health. Manual, a startup that understands men need discreet treatment and medical advice, just raised $30 million to tackle the problem.

Are the jokes about “man flu” fair? For ages, we’ve been making fun of men whining about their cold symptoms. Yes, it can sound like they’re exaggerating. However, this study suggests that men indeed experience more severe symptoms than women. 

As it turns out, maybe we should commend them for complaining about health. Because for many men raised in the environment of toxic masculinity, it’s not easy to open up and admit feeling miserable. 

When traditional masculinity hurts men

Traditional masculinity expects that men should be strong, independent, and fearless. In 2019, American Psychological Association (APA) addressed this widespread problem and released guidelines specifically targeting men and boys. APA acknowledged that while we still live in a largely patriarchal world, some areas are specifically problematic for men. Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the USA, but 77 percent are also homicide victims. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. These statistics could look different if men didn’t refrain from asking for help.

“Because of the way many men have been brought up—to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves—any sense that things aren’t OK needs to be kept secret,” said Fredric Rabinowitz, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Redlands in California. “Part of what happens is men who keep things to themselves look outward and see that no one else is sharing any of the conflicts that they feel inside. That makes them feel isolated. They think they’re alone. They think they’re weak.he added. 

Subscribing to the traditional view of masculinity leads to avoiding doctor visits, thus affecting men’s physical health. As for mental health, men tend to have less intimate confidants and often experience loneliness.

No pain, no gain

What happens when we ignore our pain? Be it mental or physical, withholding pain relief is immensely harmful. Most men would rather do household chores – including cleaning toilets – than going to the doctor. It’s that uncomfortable to deal with their problems. 

As Dr. Tisha Rowe explained for Healthline, many men are simply scared of the diagnosis. However, she often encounters something called “superhero syndrome”, which means that men don’t want to feel weak. And finally, due to prejudice related to toxic masculinity, the patients feel anxious to show their vulnerability, leading to problematic men’s health.

A recent study by The National Pharmacy Association demonstrates the extent of the problem. Nine in ten men (!) won’t go to the doctor unless they’re seriously ill. 

This startup could change the men’s health

London-based startup Manual has just raised a $30m Series A round, hinting that men’s health truly needs an overhaul. The company believes that “the first step is to open up and talk – no issue too embarrassing, no subject too taboo”. 

Its mission is to embrace holistic solutions. That’s a tremendous relief, especially when the problem feels too embarrassing. Men can get discreet consultation from medical experts and research trustworthy information. On top of that, they can find treatment for issues such as erectile dysfunction, hair loss, or sexually transmitted infections. 

Men who want to tackle the whole problem, not just a symptom, can embark on a personalized journey to health. They don’t ever need to see a doctor face-to-face. Sounds risky? Well, the trend is here to stay. Healthcare is moving to our homes because technology and at-home testing are becoming increasingly reliable. 

Next up in health: empowering patients 

Manual is one of many companies reshaping healthcare and empowering patients. This trend was already here before the pandemic, but isolation took the acceleration to another level. “Many of us cannot physically see our doctors, so we’re starting to talk about remote healthcare. We have had these technologies for more than ten years now, but so far, they’ve been utilized poorly, explains Roi Shternin, health entrepreneur and the first-ever patient in residence at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute. 

He believes that we won’t see the doctors unless it’s crucial, and patients will have more power. Roi says that this future is already upon us, with impressive FDA-approved technologies hitting the market. “One example would be Biobeat, a company producing FDA-approved medical wrist monitors that can take all the vitals that the nurse in the hospital can take – be it your temperature, blood oxygen, pulse, or ECG,” Roi outlines. 

The future of health is here

Patients are becoming more independent, and with power comes responsibility. There’s no shame in admitting your problems and doing the best for your health.

Thanks to technology, the transition could be smoother for everyone, while targeting the problems specific to men’s health.

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