In Western industrialized countries, women report using health services, and certain medications, more often than do men. Often, analyses are based on data that exclude objective measures of morbidity and that come from cross-sectional surveys, which precludes the use of socioeconomic covariates that are endogenous to seeking care. Here, differences in objective cognitive and physical function, as well as differences in reporting on illness, propensity to seek care, and socioeconomic resources are expected to account for differences in care-seeking behaviour among women and men. This model is applied to the question of medication use in Ismailia, Egypt, using two waves of survey data and in-home tests of physical function from 896 adults aged 50 years and older. The results show that women use ‘modern’ medications more often than do men, and that differences between women and men in reported morbidity and disability, observed cognitive and physical function, and economic resources account for women’s greater use of medication. The findings underline a need for biosocial models to understand differences in women’s and men’s care-seeking behaviour in later life.