Let’s be honest: A trip to the doctor’s office doesn’t top anyone’s fun list. But, regular well visits are key to helping you stay healthy and strong. One group is even more likely to resist scheduling an appointment with their primary care provider: Men.
A 2019 study by Cleveland Clinic found that 65% of men tend to wait as long as possible to see their doctor if they have an injury or illness. And, 72% of respondents said they’d rather scrub the bathroom than go to a doctor.
Anthony Germinario, MD, family medicine doctor at Roper St. Francis Physician Partners Primary Care, sees this trend in his own office.
“Some of our male patients are less likely to get primary care and only come in when something’s wrong,” Dr. Germinario says. “Many of them are more likely to tough it out until things get really bad.”
This reluctance could stem from several different reasons. It may be societal pressure to be macho and tough things out. Also, men’s health screenings often don’t dominate the news as much as women’s health screenings for diseases like breast cancer or cervical cancer.
“There isn’t one single issue that motivates men,” explains Dr. Germinario. “It’s easy for them to think if they’re feeling fine today, they don’t need to be checked out.”
Unfortunately, that mindset can lead to serious health issues.
Importance of men’s well exams
A preventive care visit with a primary care provider is an opportunity to discuss any health concerns or goals and make sure you are in good health. For Dr. Germinario, it means identifying issues before they become a problem.
“It’s always better to know about a health concern when it’s in its early stages,” he says. “That’s when we can do something about it and are better positioned to successfully treat and manage whatever it is, instead of letting the problem advance.”
During your visit, your doctor will:
- Take your vital signs (pulse, respiratory rate, temperature and blood pressure)
- Measure weight and height
- Assess your body mass index (BMI)
- Discuss family or medical history
- Perform a physical exam (listen to your heart and lungs, etc.)
- Make sure you’re up-to-date on vaccinations (tetanus, flu, shingles, pneumococcal)
- Discuss sexual health and risk of sexually transmitted infections
- Recommend appropriate health screenings
Men’s health screenings and you
When it comes to your health, ignorance is not bliss. Advances in medicine have made it more effective to diagnose, manage and treat many health conditions, particularly in their early stages.
“Men may not want to come into the office because they’re worried about uncomfortable or embarrassing conversations or procedures,” understands Dr. Germinario. “But knowledge is power. We want to give you the information you need to make a decision that’s best for your health.”
Your provider may recommend one of these health screenings at your men’s wellness exam:
- Screening blood work: Screening labs cans check for many different health conditions, including high cholesterol, diabetes, anemia and more.
- Colon cancer screening: Starting at the age of 50, men should have a colonoscopy to screen for cancer. While a colonoscopy is the considered the gold standard of screening, there are other, less invasive options available. You and your physician can discuss the approach that’s best for you.
- Prostate cancer screening: Guidelines for prostate cancer screening are changing but catching it early leads to better outcomes. Your provider can recommend a screening that’s right for you based on your risk level.
Other screenings may be based on your risk factors for lung cancer, heart attack and stroke.
Improving men’s health
Men ready to take control of their health and make better choices can follow the same guidance as everyone else:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get plenty of sleep
- Stay physically active
- Limit alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
“The best things anyone can do to get and stay healthy are: have a healthy BMI, exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days each week, and don’t smoke cigarettes,” Dr. Germinario says. “We know that these are small actions that can make a very big impact on your overall health.”
Schedule an appointment
If it’s been a while since you’ve last been to the doctor, make the call today to schedule a wellness exam with one of our primary care providers. You can always expect open and honest conversations – free of judgment – to help you feel comfortable and confident in the exam room. Find a primary care provider near you.