June is National Men's Health Month, which is a great time to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider and learn which screenings you might be due for.
Historically, men have been hesitant to seek medical attention when something seems wrong with their health. Also, men aren't as likely as women to have preventive screenings and checkups with their health care team.
"This is a problem because early detection of a medical issue is the best way to improve effectiveness of condition treatment and management," says Scott Benson, M.D., Ph.D., a physician in Family Medicine in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. "Delaying or avoiding a checkup or screening could lead to a treatable situation turning deadly."
Even young men should establish a relationship with a provider to get ahead of their health care needs.
"Just as you would look for assistance regarding investments from a well-experienced financial advisor, you should seek expert guidance regarding your long-term health and well-being," says Trevor Rich, M.D., a Family Medicine physician in Mondovi, Wisconsin. "After establishing with a primary care provider, future appointments can be more productive. Seeing a primary care provider who already knows your health history allows you to focus on and invest more time discussing the future."
What screenings do men need regularly?
While some screenings, such as HIV and hepatitis C, are recommended to have once, other screenings for certain cancers, such as colon and prostate, should be performed regularly.
Vaccines are also important to prevent infectious diseases. Vaccinations for men are administered at different intervals throughout adulthood.
How often should men have regular exams?
Men older than 50 should have a yearly physical exam, and men younger than 50 should have a physical exam every three to five years. Even if you're feeling healthy, a regular checkup with your health care team is a good way to validate your health or identify a problem in its early stages.
Another thing to think about: Health isn't only physical. Talk to your health care team about your mental health. If you're struggling in those areas, effective help is available.
"It's not just our physical health that men tend to be less attentive to than women; it's also our mental and emotional health," says Patrick Bigaouette, M.D., a psychiatrist in Psychiatry & Psychology in Mankato, Minnesota. "Some men can see mental health needs as a sign of weakness and avoid seeking help, and it's important to know that the opposite is true and that many men are dealing with similar issues. You're not alone."
What other health factors are good for men to keep tabs on?
Blood pressure: High blood pressure can lead to many physical problems, especially those associated with the heart. You should have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.
Cholesterol: Starting at age 18, men at average risk for heart disease should have a cholesterol screening every five years. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart attacks, smoke, eat a poor diet, are overweight, have diabetes, are physically inactive or older than 45, you may need more frequent testing.
Diabetes: If you're older than 45 or have a body mass index above 25, no matter your age, the American Diabetes Association recommends you be screened for diabetes.