12 April 2007
Macho Attitudes Undermining Adolescent Sexual Health
by George Atkinson
Misplaced macho attitudes are undermining the sexual health of adolescent boys, say specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. They found that teenage boys who hold traditional notions about what it means to be a "real man" may neglect seeking medical help in matters concerning their sexual health.
Writing in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers noted that while many sexually transmitted infections can be treated quickly and effectively, outdated notions of masculinity mean that many young men are not seeking help in a timely manner. "Stereotypes about masculinity suggest that for boys, seeking care is a sign of weakness, and our analysis shows that such beliefs can be considered a health risk factor. We should send out the message that seeing a doctor is not a sign of weakness and encourage parents to talk with their sons about sexual health, especially as they grow older," said study author Arik Marcell.
Communication with parents was important, added Marcell, as the study also found that boys who can speak openly to their parents about sexual health are more likely to see a doctor for preventive care. Among boys with more traditional beliefs about manhood, those who spoke openly with only their fathers were more likely to see a doctor than those who didn't communicate with either parent.
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Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions