According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institutes of Health, men are more likely than women to avoid doctor visits and skip yearly check-ups. While it’s easy to find an excuse to put off your doctor’s visit: “I don’t have time”, “I feel fine”, or “I don’t have a Primary Care Doctor”, seeing your doctor and getting regular screenings is an important part of managing your health. This Men’s Health Month, we’re reminding you to make your well-being a priority and get these essential screenings regularly.
Testicular Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they visit their doctor for their annual physical. Most cases of testicular cancer are found by a doctor during a routine physical or by the patient during a self-exam. During your appointment, be sure to ask your doctor how often you should be checking yourself and what signs and symptoms you should be looking for.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can lead to other serious medical conditions, such as heart disease or stroke, with no prior signs or symptoms. Your risk for hypertension depends mainly on age, weight, and lifestyle. Going to your doctor regularly can help determine if you need to make certain lifestyle changes to reduce your risk.
At your doctor’s visit, they will take a blood pressure reading, usually at the beginning of your appointment, to get two numbers: systolic (the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats) and diastolic (the pressure between beats). Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 130/80 or higher, but, if you fall somewhere in between, you may be on the way to having hypertension—knowing your blood pressure can help you reduce that risk.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Testing
All sexually active men should be tested at least once a year for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Some individuals should be tested more frequently depending on certain risk factors such as number of partners or pre-existing conditions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also suggests that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at least once in their lifetime. It’s normal to feel a bit uncomfortable talking to your doctor about your sex life, but it’s crucial that you be honest about your habits and any unusual symptoms you may be experiencing.
According to the Movember Foundation, a global charity devoted to Men’s Health, the majority of suicides in the United States are men. Although your primary care provider may not be able to treat ay emotional or mental distress you are experiencing, you should still speak openly with your doctor if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Your doctor will likely be able to help you find a psychologist or psychiatrist who can evaluate and treat your condition.
Communicating openly with your doctor and getting regular health screenings is the best way to prevent future health problems and stay healthy. Have you had your physical this year?