American men, on average, die about five years earlier than women, and there is a whole range of reasons why. Men are more likely than women to smoke, do drugs, die in accidents and car crashes, kill themselves, and be killed by others. There is another, more underlying, tendency that also factors in – men are less likely to take charge of their health, both in a proactive and reactive sense.
“We know men take less care of themselves they utilize health care visits, preventative health care visits and even the Emergency Department less often,” said Dr. Jared Bieniek, a urologist at Hartford Healthcare’s new Tallwood Center for Men’s Health in Farmington.
“I guess men just try to tough it up, and ignore, wait until the problem really hits them,” said Dr. Waseem Chaudhry, a preventative cardiologist at the center.
Many men wait too long to seek medical help, and doctors can’t fix the problem. However, Dr. Bieniek said, there is one area of concern that tends to make men more likely to see a doctor - erectile dysfunction.
“Men don’t like to come into the doctor, but they want things to work in the bedroom. That’s where they’re willing to come in,” said Dr. Bieniek.
Often, Dr. Bieniek is the first specialist to see patients who come to Tallwood, and in many cases, he winds up having to make referrals to other specialists in the same building.
“Trouble with erections can also be a heralding sign that there’s issues with blood flow,” said Dr. Bieniek.
“When that kicks in, what data has shown is, it’s about four to five years down the line they end up having an event like a heart attack,” said Dr. Chaudhry.
Having a number of specialists under one roof allows Dr. Bieniek to help patients with erectile dysfunction, no matter what’s causing it, or what it’s contributing to. If a patient could use a heart check-up because of ED, he can easily send patients to see Dr. Chaudhry. If the problem is hormone-based, there is an endocrinologist on-site, as is a behavioral health specialist if there is a mental health component to it.
“It’s very inter-related,” said Dr. Chaudhry, “everybody, all the specialties like endocrine, bariatric surgery, cardiology, urology, nutrition, we are all under the same roof and we all communicate.”
“I’m able to walk down the hall and talk to the other specialists about a patient, or we send electronic messages to discuss patients in more depth,” said Dr. Bieniek.
The Tallwood Men’s Health Center is designed to make me comfortable, to facilitate talking about, and taking charge of, their health. The center also gives men an age-specific questionnaire to make sure they’re staying up-to-date with all the appropriate preventative health care measures, and Dr. Bieniek said, in some cases, it’s prompted patients to mention serious problems, or symptoms of a serious problem, that would have otherwise gone unmentioned.
“We just try to make it clean,” Dr. Bieniek said, “there’s not diagrams of male gentials on the wall. No pamphlets falling on your head.”