No more excuses! Why men need to go for regular check-ups

Did you know 60% of men don’t go to the doctor? So, why aren’t men prioritizing their health?

While there are a number of other reasons men don’t visit their doctor as often as they should, societal expectation of manliness is certainly a big one. And when those who are reluctant to make an appointment do end up going for a check-up, studies show that they aren’t necessarily honest about their symptoms.

Why? Because they don’t want to appear like “less of man,” particularly in the presence of a male doctor. Interestingly, one study showed that “manly” men tend to be more honest when speaking with a female doctor.

Now let’s say you don’t fit into this particular category. What are the other reasons (a.k.a. excuses) the male population isn’t seeing their doctor as often as they should be?

  • “There’s probably nothing wrong,”  versus “I don’t want to know if something is wrong.”

In both cases, we recommend going to see the doctor anyway. Some serious health conditions have invisible symptoms, and both regular check-ups and timely appointments can result in early detectionplus a much greater likelihood of a positive outcome. Sure, ignorance is bliss. Until reality hits. Don’t run away from possible health problems. Deal with them, then move on.

  • “I don’t have time / a doctor / insurance.”

Listen, if you have time to meet your buddies for a drink, play sports, and watch an entire season of your favorite show on Netflix, then you have time to find a doctor, and look into your insurance options. You also have the 25 minutes (+ commute time) it will take to go to the doctor for a physical each year. But if you really, really don’t have the time to spare, consider looking into mobile health services.

  • “I don’t want a prostate exam.”

Unless you’re considered high risk, you won’t need this exam until you are 50. And here’s the thing – the earlier this type of cancer is detected, the higher the survival rate. Remind yourself that a little bit of discomfort now can save you a whole lot of discomfort (and possibly your life) later.

And if women can endure the pain of childbirth, you will most definitely survive a prostate exam. (Just trying to motivate you guys with a little bit of healthy competition!)

When to start screening

Other than your routine physical, there are certain health screenings you shouldn’t avoid. Some start as early as your teenage years, while others you don’t need to think about for decades. Why screen at all? Well, there are certain health conditions that you are at higher risk of developing simply because you are a man.

Let’s start with what you can do at home. It’s always a good idea to know your BMI so that you can understand if you’re at a normal weight (between 18.5 and 25) or not. If you are overweight, you can speak with your doctor about recommended lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of developing certain diseases that are linked to obesity, like diabetes or heart disease.

However, because BMI does not take into account whether the weight is carried as muscle or fat, it is not a recommended screening for muscle builders, long-distance athletes, pregnant women, the elderly, or young children.

Every month, take a moment to check your skin for abnormal moles, and be sure to check yourself for signs of testicular cancer in the privacy of your shower. If you notice something isn’t quite right, make an appointment with your doctor right away.

Here is a list of recommended screenings, based on age.

Checks, screens, and tests

BMI

Age: 10-60

Location: At home

Frequency: Before starting a new exercise routine or if you notice concerning changes to your weight

Depression

Age: N/A

Location: See doctor

Frequency: If you are feeling down or not yourself for more than 2 weeks

Testicular cancer

Age: 15-39

Location: At home

Frequency: Monthly

Blood pressure

Age: 20

Location: See doctor

Frequency: Every 2 years

Cholesterol levels

Age: 35

Location: See doctor

Frequency: Every 5 years

Colon cancer

Age: 50

Location: See doctor

Frequency: Every 5-10 years

Prostate cancer

Age: 50

Location: See doctor

Frequency: Every 5-10 years

Skin cancer

Age: 65

Location: At home

Frequency: Monthly

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Age: 65-75

Location: See doctor

Frequency: Talk with your doctor if you have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in your lifetime.

*All frequencies are assuming you aren’t considered high risk

A final word of advice: No matter how awkward you feel, be brave and be honest when speaking to a health professional about any health concerns. If you are only partially disclosing your symptoms due to shame or embarrassment, your doctor might prescribe you the wrong treatment, or none at all!

Try to see your doctor’s office as a “judgment-free” zone and remind yourself that they talk about a variety of symptoms every single day. What’s embarrassing to you is just another day on the job for them. They won’t even bat an eye, we promise!

If you’re really not comfortable speaking about a particular concern, consider seeking health advice via League’s Health Concierge. It’s a secure, confidential channel through which you can ask questions and receive unbiased guidance.

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