Men failing to seek medical treatment, says new survey


London: A new survey1 reveals this week that the majority of UK men over 30 years old only visit their GPs only if they feel ill for more than a week.

The survey, conducted for pharma Pfizer, also suggested that visits to their doctor are infrequent for many, with 38 per cent saying they went to their doctor less frequently than once a year.

Men over the age of 55 are much more likely to visit their GP, with over a half attending at least once every six months. However, over 50 per cent of all men would go if their illness did not disappear in seven days, the survey reports.

1307 men in the UK aged over 30 were asked questions in the survey on habits surrounding health.

When asked to define what they would describe as embarrassing conditions, sexually transmitted diseases ranked first place, as defined by 73 per cent of men surveyed. Impotence, or erectile dysfunction, came a close second with 62 per cent reporting it an embarrassing condition, followed by 44 per cent who referenced piles (haemorrhoids).

Wives and partners appear to play an influential role in their loved ones’ health: around three quarters of men would talk to their partner if they had an embarrassing condition, according to the survey. Almost a quarter would go to their GP more often if their wife or partner told them to.

These findings were confirmed by Professor Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum.

“It is well known that men attend their GP half as often as women, and that they probably delay seeing their doctor, particularly when they have an embarrassing medical condition,” he said. ”Men in particular should be reminded that buying medicines via the Internet without considering consultation is no substitute for an accurate diagnosis by a health care professional of what may be a serious, underlying medical condition.”

Some 30 per cent of men have consulted the Internet for help with an embarrassing condition, with 83 per cent still preferring to see their GP. Sixty four per cent have consulted the Internet for medical information; of those 77 per cent said they were likely to use the Internet to look for symptoms of illness; 66 per cent to search for advice; 44 per cent to look for medical research; and 43 per cent to search for drugs and medications.

According to Hitwise, the online intelligence service, the most searched for medical term on the internet during September 2007 was on erectile dysfunction medicine2.

Men over the age of 45 consider erectile dysfunction to be much less of an embarrassing condition than men in their thirties or early forties, with an average 56 per cent of older men believing so, compared with 69 per cent of under 45s.

Experts estimate that there are as many as 4 million men in the UK who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED)3, and 2.3 million say they are ‘bothered’ by the condition4.

For those seeking help for erectile dysfunction problems, information and advice is available online at The website offers confidential and tailored advice on ED. More general health information for men is available from the Men’s Health Forum at