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When Your Spouse Won’t Make the Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a MetroHealth primary care physician, visit

There’s an age-old argument that many couples act out time and time again: The when-was-the-last-time-you’ve-been-to-the-doctor argument. Women often find themselves at odds with their spouses about seeing the doctor, whether it’s for an annual exam or a screening test. Men are less likely to see a doctor for preventive care than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Women are more likely to go to the doctor because of gynecological reasons, like pregnancy, birth control or irregular menstrual cycles,” said Erron L. Bell, MD, a family medicine practitioner at MetroHealth. “Their OB/GYNs often take blood pressure and perform cholesterol and diabetes tests and refer patients for further care. Women simply get in the habit of taking care of themselves.”

While you may regularly see your doctor, how do you encourage your partner to get into the same good habits? Dr. Bell has the following four tips:
  1. Have an honest conversation with your spouse about potential concerns. You may find fear is the reason for not scheduling that annual exam. Some people have a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer and are afraid of going to the doctor because of what they may find out about their health. However, talking to a physician and developing a preventive care plan can help keep these illnesses at bay.
  2. Address misconceptions about annual exams. Men may be apprehensive about invasive procedures such as the digital rectal exam, which was once a standard screening method for prostate cancer but one that doctors rarely use today. Annual visits are more about the doctor assessing a person’s risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and then having a conversation about what screening tests to consider.
  3. Break the cycle (and set an example) with your kids. Make going to the doctor a habit with your children, so they’ll continue to go when they’re teenagers and adults. Schedule annual well visits so your kids know that going to the doctor isn’t always about feeling sick — it’s about touching base and addressing questions and concerns. Encourage your spouse to set a good example by going for his own annual visits.
  4. Use online scheduling. Primary care appointments can be made online even if your spouse hasn’t visited a MetroHealth doctor first. Scheduling an appointment is easier than ever. To schedule an appointment with a MetroHealth primary care physician, visit

To schedule an appointment with a MetroHealth primary care physician, visit


Erron L. Bell, MD
Family Medicine Practitioner