For Men: Healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare provider’s visits as unmanly or weak.
This is especially so if the men around them also avoid preventive medical care.
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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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. These include frequent thirst and urination, extreme tiredness,
and blurred vision. Healthy men should get screened every 3 years. This should
start at age 45.
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 healthcare provider about the right method of screening for you. The
age at which you begin screening depends on several things. This includes family
history and your ethnic group. You and your healthcare provider will decide which
screening method (physical exam or blood test), if any, is best for your situation.
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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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