According to a 2019 Cleveland Clinic study, 72% of men surveyed said they would rather do a household chore like cleaning the bathroom than go to the doctor. The survey also revealed that 1 in 5 men aren’t completely honest with their doctor about their health concerns. A high aversion to going to the doctor, coupled with a lack of complete transparency, can put a man’s health at risk. Prompting a loved one to go to the doctor can help. In fact, 20% of men said they go to the doctor because of a loved one’s encouragement.
Being proactive is also important when taking ownership of one’s health. To make it easier for men to make it to the doctor, we’ve put together a simple guide to the visits you should be incorporating into your healthcare routine. And remember, a doctor visit is only as good as the level of honesty you share with them about your healthcare concerns!
An Annual Physical is a Must
As the classic saying states, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” An annual physical is a must for everyone, but especially men who are reluctant to visit the doctor. This visit allows doctors to get a baseline of your overall health, identify any health concerns, and move forward with any necessary lab work and screenings.
High Blood Pressure Monitoring
As we age, we’re at greater risk for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This can be a precursor to severe, even life threatening, health complications like aneurysms, stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. While your blood pressure is checked at every doctor’s visit, it’s important to keep a close check on your blood pressure in between visits. Easy to use home blood pressure kits are a great way to monitor your blood pressure.
The risk of developing high cholesterol can start as early as age 20 in men. Cholesterol levels are comprised of HDL and LDL. High LDL is the culprit that causes plaque to buildup in the arteries. This buildup can lead to heart disease and even a heart attack. Cholesterol levels are influenced by factors like diet and family history. It’s recommended that men over the age of 20 receive a cholesterol check at least every 5 years. Remember, check with your doctor about your specific health history and health concerns so they can determine the right frequency for you.
Type 2 Diabetes Test
Type 2 diabetes can be the health risk hiding in plain sight. It’s estimated that up to one-third of people with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed. Untreated diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and more. Starting at age 45, men should be tested every three years for type 2 diabetes. If you have a family history or develop symptoms, check with your doctor immediately about the frequency of testing.
Prostate Cancer Screening
One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Men that are 65 and older and African American men are at a higher risk. A family history of prostate cancer also puts men at risk. Prostate cancer screenings are generally recommended for men starting at age 50, but your doctor may recommend one earlier depending on your health status and risk factors.
Testicular Cancer Exams
While testicular cancer is fairly uncommon, the American Cancer Society reports that most cases occur in men ages 20 to 54. A testicular cancer exam is usually part of an annual physical, and self exams should be part of every man’s healthcare routine. Make sure to tell your doctor if you have a family history of testicular cancer or have an undescended testicle. Each of these factors puts men at higher risk for testicular cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men are at greater risk of developing this form of cancer than women, but colorectal cancer screenings are the best line of defense in early detection. Colonoscopies can identify polyps, or growths, in the colon and remove them before they become cancerous. Men over 50 years old without increased risk should be screened regularly. Talk with your doctor about your family history and any symptoms you may be experiencing to determine the right time to start colorectal cancer screenings.
Skin Cancer Screening
Older men are twice as likely to develop skin cancer than women of the same age. The most dangerous form of skin cancer is called melanoma. Exposure to the sun, using tanning beds, and sunburns increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer. A thorough check of the skin and moles by a doctor or dermatologist are imperative for identifying skin cancer. Keep a close eye on irregular moles or skin irritation and seek medical help immediately if you notice something unusual.
While it may not always feel comfortable to visit the doctor, it's imperative to your health and longevity. Have an honest conversation about your health concerns and symptoms. Remember, early detection of health concerns is the best way to increase your chances of a successful outcome. If you have any questions about your health, contact your primary care provider. If you need a doctor, we can help you find one.