For Men: Health Care Providers Are Good for Your Health
Men are missing the mark when it comes to managing their personal health. As a result,
they are missing opportunities to find and deal with medical problems in their early
stages. This is when many conditions are more treatable and less threatening to overall
What are they thinking?
Men’s tendency to seek health care services only in “crisis” situations — and to see
themselves as strong and healthy enough to skip checkups and recommended screenings
— is no surprise to psychologists. Numerous studies have concluded that men of all
ages are less likely than women to seek help for problems. This includes physical
and emotional health issues. Some experts say this is a learned behavior. Many men
are raised to act tough and independent, so they stay in control and hide their vulnerability.
Therefore, they come to view themselves as protected from disease. Men also may fear
that others will interpret their nonemergency health care provider’s visits as unmanly
or weak. This is especially so if the men around them also avoid preventive medical
Screenings men can’t live without
The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force and other medical organizations encourage men
to go through regular health screenings to find serious health problems early. Men
should ask their health care provider about tests for the following:
High cholesterol. Beginning at age 35, men should get their cholesterol checked regularly — at
least every 5 years. Men younger than age 35 could benefit from cholesterol testing
if they smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or have a family history
of heart disease.
High blood pressure. All men should get their blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, or more
often if recommended by a health care provider.
Diabetes. Men should schedule a blood glucose test for diabetes if they have raised cholesterol
or high blood pressure. They should also have this test if they notice signs
of diabetes, like frequent thirst and urination, extreme tiredness, and blurred
vision. Healthy men should get screened every 3 years, starting at age 50.
Colorectal cancer. Screenings should begin at age 50, or earlier if there is a personal or family
history of colorectal polyps or a family history of colorectal cancer. Colorectal
cancer screening can be done either with an annual fecal occult blood testing
or colonoscopy every 10 years.
Speak with your health care provider about the right method of screening for
you. The age at which you begin screening depends on several things, including family
history and your ethnic group. You and your health care provider will decide
which screening method (physical exam or blood test), if any, is best for your
Time for a new attitude
Cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, stroke, and diabetes are among the leading causes
of death for American men. The risk of developing these conditions can be reduced with
a combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular medical care. Many disorders, like
high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are “silent” illnesses. They do not cause
telltale symptoms that may lead to a health care provider's visit. Routine checkups
and screenings are critical for detecting hidden problems and staying healthy.
Tips for partners
If the man you care about avoids preventive medical visits, don’t give up on encouraging
him to put his health first. A spouse or significant other can influence a man's decision
to see the health care provider.
For men, it’s time to consider showing strength, wisdom, and leadership in a new way.
When tempted to delay a medical visit, think about your value as a provider and role
model. Taking care of yourself enables you to take care of those who mean the most