10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Men’s Health Physician
Searching for the right doctor is no easy feat. Between finding one who takes your insurance, is taking on new patients, and can get you on the schedule quickly enough, it’s no wonder many men avoid going to the doctor in the first place. Whether due to pride, fear, or an “it’s nothing” mentality, men often avoid seeking any medical care, let alone finding a doctor that can serve their specific needs. This is an important decision to not take lightly.
Culturally, many men don’t want to go to the doctor. A Cleveland Clinic survey found 72% of men polled would rather do household chores like mow the lawn or clean the bathroom than see their doctor. However, a clean toilet and a manicured lawn cannot help keep you healthy.
Going to the doctor can be intimidating, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. . Men may not want to be a “bother”, ask too many questions, or be seen as vulnerable. When you find the right physician, these apprehensions will no longer apply, because the right person will make you feel comfortable. Having a good relationship with your primary care physician can ensure you get the best possible health care and can even save your life.
Your doctor’s an expert on the medicine but a major factor in getting a proper diagnosis is the information you provide. While shows like House or Grey’s Anatomy make doctors seem like detectives doing deep dives into their patients’ lives, your doctor may often spend about 10 minutes in the room with you. Your appointment may last at most an hour. If something gets missed it could affect your diagnosis or delay the resolution of your issue.
Finding a doctor who not only knows their stuff but can help you feel comfortable is vital for your health. Your relationship with your doctor can be one of the most personal in your life. It requires trust, open conversation, and a compatibility of approach (i.e. are you more into holistic health, or western medicine, do you have a longstanding issue?) Here are some key questions to consider when finding a doctor for men’s health.
1. Do you feel safe talking to this doctor?
Whether you’re the type to avoid the doctor altogether or you feel super comfortable and aware of your body, you want to find a doctor you can talk to. An open honest dialogue is key for getting the health care you need. There may be tough conversations you need to have.
Some topics might be embarrassing like frequent urination, or something problematic like infidelity, or even just strange. For example, if you wake up gasping in the middle of the night that could be a sign of sleep apnea. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, or their staff, you might not ever bring it up. Finding a doctor you feel comfortable talking to ensures they have all the information they need to help you.
2. Do you trust this doctor?
It’s one thing to be able to talk to your doctor, it’s another thing to confide in them. Certain key health issues can be misdiagnosed without the proper information. Erectile dysfunction, testicular abnormalities, and trouble urinating can be embarrassing but could be part of larger medical issues. Your doctor may also need to know if you have multiple sex partners, use drugs, or drink heavily.
While you may not want your co-worker, friends, or even your partner to know some of your secrets, you do want to be able to tell your doctor. Conversations with your doctor are kept private, as they are covered under doctor-patient confidentiality. But, it doesn’t hurt if you feel like you can trust them.
3. Does the doctor listen to you?
Doctors often see multiple patients in a day, leading them to move at a fast pace. You want to find a doctor that is patient and listens to ensure that they fully capture your symptoms and information. A study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that of the doctor/patient interactions they observed, doctors generally interrupted within 11 seconds. Some didn’t even ask the patient’s reason for their visit.
While doctor visits tend to be short and there are software and communication tools to streamline your appointment, you still want to look for a physician who will take the time to not just talk but listen to you.
4. Do they have a good bedside manner?
We all have different personalities and vibe with different people. You want to find a doctor you get along with. Are you the type that wants someone to rip the band-aid off? Do you want someone who can give it to you straight? Do you want a doctor who will fully explain the science? Finding a physician who matches your personality and what you want is key.
If you don’t get along with your doctor you run the risk of avoiding important appointments or ignoring their advice. Not to mention, you don’t want any weirdness when having an uncomfortable procedure like your first colonoscopy appointment.
5. Are they generally available?
If you have trouble getting your first appointment, imagine if you have an urgent issue. The last thing you want is to struggle to make an appointment when you’re dealing with a pressing medical issue or need a refill. Doctors are busy but if your doctor, or someone in their practice, is generally available to answer questions or can accommodate a last-minute emergency appointment, that can be a good match. While you may not require a ton of medical attention in the year it’s good to know you can see them when you need them.
6. Is the staff helpful? Do you like the staff?
It may be easy to find a great connection with a doctor but you’re only interacting with them for a short time. If you don’t get along with the receptionist it might affect your chances of getting an appointment. Some practices have a small staff. You want to make sure that you get along with the receptionist, nurses, and other staff.
Do they answer questions about insurance? Do they know what they’re talking about? Are they helpful in getting you in? Finding a great doctor includes a great team, who will not saddle you with a bunch of uncovered medical bills, and can see you when you need to be seen.
This also can be a health concern because if you do not give information to the admitting staff or if you miss key details it can affect your quality of care.
7. What are their credentials?
You can do a quick search to see if your doctor’s license has not been restricted and check for any disciplinary actions. If a doctor has a certain specialty, you can also check their board certification. The Administrators in Medicine Doc Finder can help you in locating your doctor to verify this information. It never hurts to check to ensure you’re getting the best care.
8. Do you have any special needs?
Some doctors practice general medicine but may have an additional specialty. If you have any pressing or chronic issues you’ll want to find a doctor who can help. You may want a doctor with a background in urology if you have a bladder or testicular issue. If you have a chronic illness you may want to find an internist rather than a general doctor. If cancer runs in your family, you may want a doctor who has a background in oncology. When selecting a doctor, be sure to be mindful of any special needs.
9. Has this doctor diagnosed hernias, cancer, and hormonal irregularities?
You want a doctor who understands men’s health and can diagnose some of the major issues that uniquely affect men today. What if your testosterone levels get low? How likely are your chances of getting prostate or testicular cancer? Can they diagnose a hernia or kidney stones? It’s within your right to ask a doctor about their past diagnoses. While a bit cautious, your health matters and your doctor should understand you want clarity.
10. What does your gut tell you?
Follow your intuition. You want to meet a doctor that can help your body feel its best. If you feel uncomfortable, unsure, or as if the doctor doesn’t know what they’re talking about or doesn’t care, you can find someone else.
A little research can save you so much time by finding a doctor that is not only helpful but available and ensures you don’t have to see them often. Your relationship with your physician can be one of the more important relationships in your life. Use this guide to make the best choice when choosing your doctor to find the right match.