When it comes to talking to their doctors about their health or admitting that they have a problem, most men stretch the truth, leave out important details or flat-out lie.
In fact, a little more than 50 percent of men between the ages of 55 and 64 said they’re usually honest with their doctors, while only approximately 38 percent said they’re always honest, a survey by NetQuote found.
What’s more, 53 percent of men said their health isn’t something they talk about, a survey by the Cleveland Clinic found.
Here, experts weigh in with some of the most common lies men tell their doctors and the reasons why they need to come clean.
1. “I don’t have erectile dysfunction.”
Between 15 and 30 million men under age 65 in the U.S. have erectile dysfunction, but most men won’t readily admit it.
“When they come into the office they always come in for another excuse,” said Dr. Dudley Danoff, a urologist in Los Angeles and author of “The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health.”
But when they’re on their way out, they’ll ask for samples of erectile dysfunction medication.
Erectile dysfunction doesn’t only affect a guy’s sex life, it’s also linked to other medical conditions like thyroid dysfunction, type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.
“Something can be done about it, but men have to fess up and let their doctor help them,” Danoff said.
2. “I don’t have problems urinating.”
It’s common for men to hold back when it comes to talking about their bathroom habits, but going more frequently and experiencing pain or discomfort can all be signs of prostate problems— which are common in men over 50, said Dr. Berry Pierre, a board-certified internal medicine physician in Boynton Beach, Florida.
3. “I’m not depressed.”
Men who have depression are more likely to brush it off, try to “talk” themselves out of it, or socially withdraw in order to cope.
“Men are less likely than women to express emotional vulnerability,” said Dr. Will Courtenay, a psychotherapist in Oakland, California.
Not only can depression affect their quality of life, but men with depression are at risk for suicide.
In fact, suicide rates in men between 45 and 64 increased 43 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
4. “We have sex all the time.”
A healthy sex life is important for a healthy relationship and overall health and well-being, but a large percentage of couples are in sexless marriages.
In fact, 20 percent of married people between 18 and 60 have not had sex in the last month and 6 percent have not had sex in over a year, according to a survey by The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture.
Men who are not having sex regularly aren’t likely to bring it up because they’re embarrassed, but talking to their doctors about it can rule out medical conditions and help them find solutions.
5. “My bowel habits are normal.”
Men who have bleeding, pain or changes in their bowel habits often downplay their symptoms, don’t disclose all the details, or even deny it, said Dr. Cedrek McFadden, a double-board certified surgeon in colorectal and general surgery in Greenville, South Carolina.
Men are more prone to be tight-lipped because they’re embarrassed or fearful of what their doctors will discover.
Yet it’s important that men tell their doctors about their symptoms because they could be symptoms of things like diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a fissure, an abscess or colon cancer.
Although they dread having a colonoscopy, the prep work is the worst part of it and it can detect colon cancer and when found early, be cured, McFadden said.
6. “I don’t snore.”
True, men can’t hear themselves snore, but when their partners tell their doctors that they do, men may deny it or brush it off as insignificant, said Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a clinical sleep specialist in Los Angeles and author of “The Power of When.”
Yet snoring, and pauses in breathing, are often a tell tale sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition which affects more than 18 million Americans and can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and type-2 diabetes, among others.
7. “I see—and hear—just fine.”
Men consistently lie or aren’t entirely truthful about how poor their vision and hearing have become, probably because of the stigma attached to growing old.
Yet having regular exams and being truthful can identify problems before they become more severe.
8. “My blood pressure is normal.”
It’s common for men with high blood pressure, even if it’s well controlled, to leave it out of the medical history questionnaire, said Dr. Jennifer Dean, a family and cosmetic dentist in San Diego, California.
Yet neglecting to their doctors, especially their dentist, about it could be serious. Anesthetics for dental procedures that contain epinephrine can increase blood pressure and put a middle-aged man at risk for a heart incident, she said.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.