June 27, 2023

Men: It’s time to prioritize preventive care

It’s important to be proactive about your health by scheduling regular checkups and seeking treatment early for concerning symptoms.

Encourage the men in your life to see their doctor and take charge of their health, because it matters.

Many men skip their annual checkups or delay seeing a doctor when something seems wrong with their health, opting to tough out their problems. But here's the thing: This behavior can have serious consequences. Early detection and treatment are often crucial for successfully dealing with health issues.

It’s essential for men to remember that good health should never be taken for granted and seeking help is not a sign of weakness.

“It’s important to know that catching a disease in its early stages can be the difference between life and death,” said Fred Alamshaw, DO, chief of family medicine for Kaiser Permanente in Orange County, California.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13.2% of men age 18 and older in the United States are in fair or poor health. “One conclusion to this troubling statistic is that many men are inclined to not see a doctor until in the later stages of physical or mental ailments,” Dr. Alamshaw said.

Why do men skip doctor's visits more often?

Dr. Alamshaw notes that men struggling with physical or mental health issues are more likely than women to avoid seeking treatment or not have recent contact with health care professionals.

One reason for this behavior, according to Dr. Alamshaw, is that many men feel pressure to conform to traditional gender norms of masculinity. They may also want to show their independence and control. Cultural norms and societal pressure can make them hesitant to appear weak or vulnerable.

“This is regardless of income or ethnicity,” Dr. Alamshaw said. “This type of reluctance often leads to men not seeking help until their mental or physical health has progressed to a point where it might be too late.”

Dr. Alamshaw encourages men to put those feelings aside and, at the very least, undergo key screening tests to help find health complications and diseases early, when they’re easier to treat.

What health checks should men get?

Blood pressure check

This should be done at least once a year, regardless of age. Knowing your blood pressure — and treating it if it’s high — can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Cholesterol test

After age 35, get a blood test once a year to check cholesterol levels. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about beginning testing sooner.

Diabetes screening

You should be screened for diabetes beginning at age 45. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause severe damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and heart.

Colon cancer screening

Most colon cancer begins as polyps — tiny, noncancerous pieces of tissue. Starting at age 45, you should have a colonoscopy every 10 years to find and remove polyps before they become dangerous.

Prostate cancer screening

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men. If you’re over age 40, talk with your doctor about if and when this screening is right for you. Screenings include a prostate specific antigen, or PSA, blood test and a digital rectal exam.

So, men, reconsider your reservations and talk to your care provider about potentially lifesaving screening. If you want more information about men's unique health needs, Kaiser Permanente has some valuable resources. Take care of yourselves, guys. Your health matters!