How to Get Your Man to See a Doctor

Men are notorious for avoiding doctors, but these four tactics may convince him to go.

Medically reviewed in December 2020

Three things men hate: Calling a plumber, asking for directions—and going to the doctor. Many men don’t like to ask for help, and that includes for their health. Men are less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the last six months, and more likely not to have seen a doctor in the last five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, the “manlier” the man, the less likely he is to visit a doctor and the more likely he is to downplay any symptoms.

Preventative care
If a man is unwilling to go to the doctor, it puts him at risk for missing preventive screenings. Women outlive men by nearly five years on average, and missing a screening can mean missing a chance to catch a serious condition early and nip it in the bud. If doctors can catch a condition early enough, the treatment may even work better.

Why men avoid the doctor
So what makes men so hesitant to walk into a doctor’s office? Here are a few reasons:

Fear can be a powerful motivator, or in this case, a motivation-killer. Fear could be a reason. A man might be afraid the doctor will judge him for his lifestyle choices, like smoking. If he’s overweight, he might not want to be called out for his lack of exercise and poor diet. On the other hand, he may not want to know if that painless lump on his testicle is a tumor.

Time is another major reason. There’s always time to sit on a boat with a beer in one hand and a fishing pole in the other, but an annual check-up that would take an hour, tops? Way too busy.  

It’s often being really sick that will finally send a man to a medical professional. Men may go to a doctor or an urgent care clinic when they’re vomiting or hacking up a lung, but it’s the well visits that can be a harder sell. Men are also less likely to have a primary care doctor than women, according to a survey of more than 2,200 Americans conducted in 2012 by The Physicians Foundation.

Motivational tactics for every man
If you think the man in your life needs some convincing to put his health first, you’ll need to know your audience. Not all tactics work for all men. That said, here are four approaches to try.

1. Come from an attitude of caring. Couch the doctor conversation in a way that shows him that you truly care about his health, and the doctor visit isn’t meant to be one more item on a honey-do list. Let him know that you want him to be around for a long time.

2. Talk about a lucky break. This tactic works best if you know of a friend or relative who caught a serious medical condition early. If a golf buddy found a lump that turned out to be cancer, that might motivate a man to get his health checked as well.

3. Offer to make his appointment at the same time as yours. This tactic works well for someone who always claims he’s too busy. It takes the pressure off him to actually pick up the phone, and if the appointment is already made he may be more likely to keep it. An added bonus is that you and your man will be on the same schedule so you can make your next appointments together as well.

4. Have Dad take the kids. In many families it’s Mom who takes the kids to the doctor when they need to go. Next time, have Dad do it. It’s a way of exposing a father to a medical setting in a low-pressure situation. A child may ask the father when he’s planning to see a doctor too, perhaps spurring him to action.

Two tactics to avoid
Some people are truly forgetful and may appreciate multiple reminders, but beware nagging. Reminding someone over and over, especially when it’s not done in the context of caring, is likely just to annoy him. Similarly, guilt tripping may do more harm than good. People aren’t often motivated by negative feedback.

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