We’ve all heard about men avoiding the doctor. But we don’t think it means they’re careless about their health – we know plenty of guys who eat right, work out and make sleep a priority. We just think there’s a much greater focus on women’s health issues – so maybe it’s not clear what men should be keeping tabs on.
Since it’s National Men’s Health Week, we’d like to give the guys their fair share of the self-care pie. This week we’re running a three-post series just for them (or you) – addressing preventive care, the #1 men’s health concern and small lifestyle changes that make a big impact. But first – the sobering facts:
State of the Male Union in the U.S.
1 in 10 men are in fair or poor health
Nearly HALF don’t get enough physical activity
1 in 5 smoke cigarettes
Approximately one-third are obese or have high blood pressure
1 in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime
Men are 24% less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year
Just over half of men get routine care, compared with two-thirds of women
Source: Centers for Disease Control, Movember Foundation, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
So first up: the doctor stuff. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than you think – and the average doctor’s visit is only 19 minutes!
Your Preventive Care Checklist
Know your numbers. No one likes needles. But a blood test for cholesterol and blood sugar levels – as well as a blood pressure check – is one of the quickest, easiest things you can do for your health. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death and diabetes is rapidly on the rise, put this at the top of your list.
Get age-appropriate cancer screenings. Have your doctor check for testicular cancer until age 35, prostate cancer starting between 40 and 50 (depending on your risk) and colon cancer starting at 50.
Hormones – they’re not just for women. Men’s average testosterone levels have been dropping at least one percent each year for the last few decades. If you have any symptoms of low testosterone (aka “low T”) – like decreased libido, reduced energy, depression or weight gain – ask your doctor if you should check your testosterone level.
Don’t forget your mental health. It’s not exactly easy to talk about feelings. But depression affects six million men each year and, if left untreated, can lead to heart disease and other serious problems. If you’re feeling hopeless, frustrated, fatigued or having trouble concentrating – and it’s interfering with your work, relationships or ability to enjoy life – bring it up with your doctor.
Get your shots. Yes, more needles. It might require digging through medical records (or calling your mother), but make sure you’re up to date on your tetanus booster, which you should get every 10 years. And talk with your doctor about whether you should receive other vaccinations, like hepatitis, HPV, MMR, chickenpox or a flu shot.