In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to recognize another set of men particularly important to us in the lupus community: the 10% of people with lupus who are men.
Lupus is often referred to as a “women’s health issue” because 9 out of 10 people with lupus are women; however, men get lupus, too. I understand that being a man with lupus brings along special challenges that women do not face:
Trouble Getting a Diagnosis
Diagnosing lupus is not easy for anyone. But unfortunately, I have received far too many phone calls from distraught and self-doubting men who have many lupus symptoms yet have been told that they could not possibly have lupus because it’s a woman’s disease. This could not be farther from the truth. Men, if you still think you have lupus despite being told you don’t, please see another doctor! If you need help finding a rheumatologist with an expertise in lupus, please call me at 212-685-4118 or email email@example.com.
Stigma of Having a Women’s Disease
As with breast cancer, it can be embarrassing for a man to admit to having what is thought of as a “woman’s disease.” Because hormones are thought to play a role in the development of lupus, men may wonder if this makes them biologically less manly (The answer is No). Others who identify with being physically strong or family providers can have a hard time coping with physical weakness, fatigue and pain, particularly if it affects their ability to work.
Lack of Social Support
For anyone with lupus, getting emotional support can be difficult. Friends and family may not understand what having lupus really means. Men with lupus can have an even tougher time finding support, especially since support groups are run and attended by mostly women. Yet connecting to other men with lupus is especially important. Because we are concerned about this unmet need, we are embarking on a long-term project of developing men’s groups, run by men—please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would be interested in leading or joining such a group.