Every year, you want to go to the doctors for a checkup. Think of it as your medical service, just like you’d get a service annually (or even twice a year) for your car. The aim is to look out for signs of health conditions to get treatments at the early stages or even take steps to prevent the conditions becoming irreparable.
What the health checks up for men is different to women, since our bodies are made up differently. While women need pap smears and will likely have breast exams, men will need other parts of their bodies checked to look for early warning signs of cancer and other health conditions.
Here’s a full look at the men’s health checkup, so you’re ready for this annual trip to the doctors. Even if you feel healthy, you should book an appointment. This isn’t about treating conditions but preventing them. It’s more affordable and less taxing on your body to do it this way. The checkup you receive exactly will depend on your age, medical and family history, and your doctor’s choices. However, this is a standard breakdown based on your age.
Men in Ages 18-39
Before your 40th birthday, you’ll want to get the checkup annually more to make sure you’re keeping your body healthy for the future. After 40 you can start to see a decline, but doctors like to minimize that as much as possible.
Once you reach 18, it’s important to have your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels checked. You’ll also want to make sure your immunizations are up to date. Your doctor will go through these tests.
Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Blood Sugar
Every three to five years your doctor will want to check your blood pressure. If your levels increase or you have a family history or previous history of high blood pressure, your doctor may want to check on you more often. If your levels are dangerously high, you can find your test needs to be every few months until you’re able to get it down.
High blood pressure is one of the most common reasons for health problems in men. It’s also known as a silent killer since you get no physical symptoms of the condition without the standard blood pressure tests.
If you have some health conditions, including kidney disease, heart disease, or diabetes, your doctor will likely order the blood pressure test yearly. High blood pressure can cause complications.
Your doctor will also look out for low blood pressure. This is as dangerous as high blood pressure!
The cholesterol is another level you should have checked, especially from the age of 35. You want to get this checked every five years at least unless you have other health problems or you’re at high risk of other conditions. A doctor can recommend that you get your cholesterol levels checked from the age of 20 if you show signs of heart disease, diabetes, and some other health problems.
Checking the cholesterol levels will be broken down. Your doctor will see your total cholesterol and then the separate amounts of good and bad. While you want the bad cholesterol to remain low, your doctor will also want to know you’re managing the good levels. Too much of a good thing is bad for your health. The cholesterol can prevent the blood flowing properly.
Your blood sugar levels will also be checked, and this is usually every three years or so. However, your doctor may hold back on this test if you show no risk factors. The most common reasons for getting your blood sugar levels checked are if you have symptoms, your blood pressure is high, or you have a high BMI.
Immunizations and Infectious Diseases
If you have a history of infectious diseases, your doctor may order a screening. This is also possible if you have a lifestyle or you’ve been traveling to countries that are known for certain diseases. The most common infectious diseases routinely screened for include HIV, syphilis, and Chlamydia.
Those who are sexually active will want to get the routine STI checks anyway. This is an excellent way to see earlier signs of the infections if you have them and talk about ways to prevent the spread of infections. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, you won’t usually need the screenings, unless there are other factors that cause alarm for your doctor.
One thing that your doctor will check your routine checkup is your immunizations. At 19, you’ll need to get a booster for tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap). You’ll then need to get a booster every 10 year. Your doctor will also discuss whether you need a booster or round of vaccines for other conditions, such as the MMR or the chickenpox vaccine. This will depend on your medical history.
A vaccine you’ll want to consider getting is the flu shot each year. This protects you against the most problematic forms of flu from the year before, so isn’t a guarantee that you’ll avoid the illness, but it does help to minimize the risk.
Your doctor may also recommend other vaccines depending on your medical conditions. At times, your doctor can recommend against vaccines because of your suppressed immune system or health problems.
The Physical Exam, Including Testicular Checks
Throughout the check, your doctor will ask you a series of routine questions. These will mostly be about your tobacco and alcohol intake, your mental health state, and your current diet and exercise routine. Your doctor will want to see the current lifestyle you have to determine if you need advice on how to change things.
If you have a history of mental health issues, including depression and eating disorders, your doctor will likely delve further into these questions. Your doctor doesn’t want you to have a relapse and will want to make sure you’re getting the exact help that you need.
You’ll also have your height, and weight checked at all your routine exams. This is to check on your BMI to see if you’re underweight, a healthy weight, or overweight. From these results (and based on your exercise and lifestyle) your doctor can take steps to recommend steps to protect your health.
Men will usually have their abdominal fat checked. Abdominal fat is more common in men than women and is the worst type of fat. It’s visceral fat that works around your organs and puts them under strain. Your doctor will discuss this health issue.
Then you may have a testicular exam. Getting your testicles checked for lumps and other deformities are important to see the earlier signs of cancer. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends against regular self-exams since they no longer provide benefits.
Getting Your Eyes and Oral Health Checked
Your routine health checkup isn’t just about your physical health. You’ll also need to see your dentist and optician get your eyes, and oral health checked.
The dental exam should be at least once a year, although twice is better. Your dentist will then let you know if you need to attend more often. The exam will involve a look at your teeth and gums, and usually, include x-rays. You’ll then need a routine clean to remove the built-up plaque (even with good oral hygiene, you can miss plaque buildup).
As for the eye exam, you’ll need to get your eyes checked every two years. If you have other eye problems or your optician recommends (such as due to diabetes), you may need to visit more frequently. However, up to the age of 39, your eyes are usually pretty standard in health.
Men Above the Age of 40
From your 40s, your health can start to see a routine. Many of the tests above will be the same, but you will likely need to have your tests more frequently. Here’s a look at the changes in your tests.
More Frequent Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Checks
Your checks on blood pressure and cholesterol will increase to yearly from the age of 40. This is the point that the health problems become more prevalent. If you have diabetes or other health conditions, your doctor may suggest that you have your blood pressure checked more frequently. This is something to discuss with your doctor if you’re worried about it.
Your doctor will also talk to you about the medication you’re taking. If you have a high risk of heart attacks or low blood pressure, your doctor will likely recommend against using aspirin. This is due to it being a blood thinner, which can increase the risk of internal bleeding.
The Shingles Vaccine
From the age of 60, you may be offered the shingles vaccine. The good news is this is only needed the once and then you’re good for the rest of your life. Shingles are caused by a similar herpes infection to chickenpox, but your chickenpox vaccine won’t protect against it. Shingles are highly common in adults over 60, although more common in women than men.
Colon Cancer Screening and Bone Density Tests
From the age of 50, you’ll usually be offered routine colon cancer screening tests. You may also be recommended to take a bone density test.
The colon screening helps to check for signs of colon cancer, which is one of the more aggressive forms of cancer. If you have risk factors, such as struggling with IBS, you may be offered the screening earlier. Those with a family history of colon cancer will also usually be offered from a younger, as there may be a genetic link.
There are a few colon tests available. The colonoscopy is the most common, which will happen every 10 years. Your doctor may request a fecal occult blood test done yearly and you may also get the flexible sigmoidoscopy test every decade.
As for the bone density test, this is more commonly given to women than men, as women are more likely to suffer from low bone density. However, your doctor may recommend it yearly if you have a low body weight, steroid use, heavy alcohol or tobacco use, or you’ve had fractures over the age of 50. Your doctor will also look at your family history to see if there’s a need to go through the testing. This is to rule out osteoporosis, which leads to weaker bones and can cause various health risks and complications, including a higher risk of fractures.
Lung Cancer and Prostate Checks
From the age of 50, your doctor will also check other signs of cancer. You’ll want to discuss your need for a prostate exam. This is one of the deadliest forms of cancer in men and often goes undiagnosed because of the lack of testing; men feel uncomfortable getting it done. Please don’t be embarrassed. It’s routine and can save your life.
The good news is you don’t need the physical test all the time! In fact, unless you have symptoms, there are no routine physical exams. The test is done through blood work, known as the PSA test. It’s carried out yearly to look out for any abnormal cells and signs. If there are signs, then your doctor will discuss the full physical exam. See, no need to be embarrassed!
Annual lung cancer checks can also be carried out, but this isn’t for anyone. Those who quit smoking within the last 15 years or those who have a 30-pack per year habit will be offered the annual test, called the low-dose computed tomography test. It’s carried out in those between 55 and 80 years old.
Increased Eye Tests
You’ll need to get your eyes checked more frequently when you reach the age of 55. This is usually every year, due to the deterioration of your eyes. If you’re 40 and have a family history of some age-related eye problems, your optician may recommend getting your eyes checked yearly.
As you get older, you’re at more risk of glaucoma, macular degeneration disease, and cataracts. Your optician will carry out a series of tests, looking at the eye health, the pressure within the eye, and the lens of your eye to make sure everything is in check. If there are early warning signs, your optician can refer you to an ophthalmologist to get the further test and prevent any further deterioration.
Get Your Annual Health Check Up
The best thing you can do is see your doctor on a yearly basis for your health check-up. While a doctor will treat conditions, preventing them is something they prefer to do. It’s better for you physically and also cheaper for you.
Your doctor will discuss the need for further testing while there. This will depend on some results, your lifestyle, and your doctor’s preferences. You can also talk about any risk factors or ailments that you do have.
Treat your health checkup like your service for the car. Getting the earlier problems fixed will help prevent further and more costly issues down the line. You’ll also be able to live your life to the fullest because you’re not in as much pain or worried about complications to conditions.