Let’s face it. Nobody likes going to the doctor, NOBODY. At least, nobody we’ve met.
But did you know?
Men are about 25% less likely to go in for routine checkups or testing than women.
Why do you think that is?
It’s hard to say precisely.
Though it likely has something to do with the fact that most of us guys tend to believe we’re invincible, strong, well-built men who can withstand any of the rigors life throws at us.
While much of that may be true, it’s critical that we regularly get tested for various potential health issues, whether we feel like superheroes or not.
And regularly getting yourself checked out only becomes more important with age.
With that in mind, we’re going to dive into some necessary health checks you should be doing, and we’ll let you know when and how often you should be doing them. That way, you can continue to be “as healthy as a horse” for years.
- Blood Cholesterol Check
Not all cholesterol is bad. Actually, healthy cholesterol is critical to vital functions like hormone regulation and cell regeneration. High HDL (High-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels can benefit your health, while high LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels can be severely damaging.
That’s why it’s critical to regularly test for HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels after age 35.
If you have high blood pressure or a history of heart issues in your family, it’s better to begin regular cholesterol checks even earlier. Physicians recommend performing a baseline screening by age 20.
However, if you haven’t been tested yet, don’t panic. Just discuss having your cholesterol measured with your doctor. It’s a simple blood test routinely performed in most health clinics.
- Blood Pressure Screening
Regular blood pressure screenings are essential for monitoring critical health factors for men. This screening should be performed at least once a year.
High blood pressure is associated with an increased likelihood of:
- Heart Attack
- Heart Disease
- Aortic Aneurysm
- Kidney Disease
- Vascular Issues
It’s recommended to begin yearly blood pressure screenings at age 18 and will generally be performed during all routine checkups.
According to information from the Centers For Disease Control, high blood pressure affects:
- 51% Of All Men
- 59.4% Of Men Aged 40-59
- 75.2% Of Men Over Age 60
As you can see, the risk of high blood pressure appears to increase significantly with age.
Be sure to discuss your blood pressure with your doctor. Or look into buying an at-home blood pressure screening device. They generally cost between $40-100 and may sometimes be covered by insurance.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Test
The aorta is your body’s primary and largest blood vessel. It runs from your heart all the way down through your abdomen and is responsible for carrying blood from the heart to your circulatory system.
According to studies, as much as 8.9% of men will suffer at least a mild abdominal aortic aneurysm in their lifetime. Being a smoker or 65+ years old puts one at significantly higher risk.
So, what is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
The aorta can be broken down into two parts, the thoracic (the portion in your chest) and the abdominal (the portion in your abdomen). The abdominal aorta is larger and has a higher incidence of aneurysms, which occur when the blood vessel swells.
In some cases, a mild abdominal aortic aneurysm will have few or no symptoms. Yet, this swelling can worsen over time, and if it ruptures, it can lead to death due to internal bleeding.
For that reason, doctors recommend all men get tested at 65. The test requires an ultrasound scan which takes 10-15 minutes. If you’re 65 or older, be sure to discuss your options with your physician.
Colon, or colorectal cancer, will affect about 1 in every 22 men. A colonoscopy is a quick, routine screening designed to identify cancer or other health issues that can occur in your bowels.
A colonoscopy is used to:
- Identify Sources Of Intestinal Issues
- Locate Polyps For Removal
- Treat Abdominal Pain, Rectal Bleeding, Or Chronic Diarrhea
- Screen For Colorectal Cancer
The potential risk of colorectal cancer, colon polyps, and other intestinal issues significantly increases around age 50.
Medical professionals recommend every man get a colonoscopy at age 50. And then another colonoscopy every 10 years for the rest of his life.
Screenings should begin earlier for those suffering from a high risk of colorectal cancer. If you’re at increased risk of this issue or other intestinal problems, discuss your options with a doctor.
A colonoscopy is painless but does require you to take laxatives and refrain from eating for several hours beforehand.
- Skin Cancer Screening
Research from the American Academy of Dermatology shows that the risk of developing skin cancer, especially melanoma, is substantially higher in men than women.
Studies show when compared to women, men are:
- More Likely To Die From Melanoma
- Twice As Likely To Develop Melanoma At Age 65
- Three Times More Likely To Develop Melanoma At Age 80
The reasons men experience higher incidence and increased mortality rates related to skin cancer aren’t entirely clear.
What’s clear is guys tend to get skin cancer more often than women, and that likelihood only increases with age.
Most research indicates men should begin to get regular skin cancer examinations at age 20 and should continue to do so once a year after that.
If you’ve had skin issues in the past, getting screened every 6 months is recommended.
If you don’t have access to a dermatologist, self-screening is advisable to identify potential skin issues.
Be on the lookout for new:
- Other Skin Irregularities
Self-checks and monitoring can help, yet if you suspect a serious issue related to your skin, it’s best to visit a doctor (better yet, a dermatologist) immediately.
Sunscreen and skin covering (hats, long sleeves, and pants) will be your best protection against skin cancer if you’re spending long hours in the sun.
- Prostate Check
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 13% of all men will experience prostate cancer, with about 2-3% dying as a result. And that’s only the extreme. Other prostate issues like inflammation can have severe repercussions for aspects of masculinity, like sexual function.
It’s recommended to get a prostate check by the age of 50. If your family has a history of prostate health problems, that number moves to 45. And physicians suggest going in for a prostate check every 3-5 years after that.
Evidence also shows that African American men are at a significantly higher risk of contracting prostate cancer and should get tested earlier and more regularly.
A prostate check consists of a pair of tests. Both should be taken for the sake of thoroughness:
- Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test
The PSA test is a blood test that checks the levels of antigens made by the prostate present in your blood. Higher levels of this substance could mean a higher likelihood of prostate cancer or other prostate problems.
- Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
This exam requires the physician to carefully insert a gloved hand into your rectum. This test aims to physically check for swelling, lumps, or any other irregularities on the prostate.
Getting both tests will yield the most accurate results. If you haven’t had a prostate check yet, and you’re 40 or older, it’s likely time to have a discussion with your doctor.
7. Diabetes Screening
Based on evidence published by the Centers for Disease Control, men are more than twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to women. One reason is that the male body stores excess fat around the waistline, a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to:
- Lowered Testosterone Levels
- Erectile Health Issues
- Frequent Urination
- Retrograde Ejaculation
- Nerve Damage
- Several Other Issues
If you’ve put on fat around the belly or gained unwanted weight in recent years, you may be at an increased risk of diabetes. Lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet and increased exercise, can help you to prevent or manage the condition.
All men will want to begin diabetes screening by age 45. A blood sugar (A1C) test should be administered every 6 months. Doing so will allow you to calculate your average blood sugar levels over the previous 3 months.
If you’re at high risk of contracting diabetes, you may need to test more often and should discuss options with your physician.
You can get a test at many medical centers or buy an A1C at-home testing kit. Depending on your exact needs, these kits typically cost $60-200 online.
Get Checked & Be Healthy
Most guys have no interest in getting tested or stepping foot inside a doctor’s office.
And look, we get it. It’s no fun. It takes our precious time and may cost a pretty penny.
Yet, these tests are necessary to ensure that we’re living our best lives and can be here for our people well into the future.
If you want to increase the likelihood you’re around to enjoy your family and get the most out of your life, then get tested. It could be the difference between a minor hiccup and a massively disruptive health incident.
Thanks for reading! Here’s to your health and happiness!