It’s no secret: men see their regular medical providers far less often than women do. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control survey, only 26 percent of all men have a regular medical provider.
Many men think they don’t need to come in on an annual basis like women do or think they only need to come in when they’re sick. Neither are true. Men need to see their medical providers on a regular basis – even when they’re healthy. If a patient only comes in when he’s sick, it’s challenging to identify and treat other, more serious health issues, such as high blood pressure since I’m focused on his current complaint.
I get it. I’m a guy too and I have my own priorities. But my health is one of them, and it should be too for the men in your life.
Some people shy away from coming to the doctor worried that they’ll be scolded for eating too much or not getting enough exercise. That’s not the case. Your health provider is here to help you and provide advice – it’s a partnership.
Annual check-ups are important for everyone. They provide me with a chance to discuss possible concerns and identify potential problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis or problems with sleeping. I also scan their skin looking for any signs or suspicious spots that could be skin cancer. Some health problems, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, do not have any symptoms so it’s important to be checked out. And if left unchecked, both can lead to heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems.
I also talk with patients about their health concerns, including losing weight or quitting smoking, and how I can help them reach their goals. I also do a basic screen for depression – something many men won’t bring up on their own, worried they may be looked down by others on for any mental health problems.
The annual visit also gives me a chance to make sure patients are current on their vaccinations – they don’t end in childhood – and that any necessary screenings, including colonoscopies, are done on time. There are also health issues specific to men, including prostate health. Starting at age 50, men and their medical provider should discuss whether being screened for prostate cancer or having a physical exam to look for problems is right for them.
Another reason annual visits are so important is that it helps me to get to know my patients. Having a good relationship with your medical provider is vital when problems come up.
Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.