While it is relatively easy to find resources and support concerning women’s health issues, conversation and awareness around men’s health isn’t as common. Even though we think of ourselves as strong and invincible, men shouldn’t feel they need a secret guy decoder ring to find information and support. Actually it’s quite easy and it just so happens that June is Men’s Health Month – the perfect excuse to jump in and take charge of your own health.
The good news is that staying healthy is simple. To quote a popular sports brand, “Just do it!” Many studies have clearly demonstrated that men underutilize or never utilize preventive health services. We don’t think we can get sick and we don’t come in for preventive maintenance. So the simple message is, just do it - make that appointment for your annual health maintenance checkup.
After you make the appointment, the rest is simple. With a few exceptions, men’s health focuses on the things you already know. Eat a well-balanced low fat diet. Exercise. Don’t smoke. Use alcohol in moderation, if at all. Use sun block. Practice safe sex. Get plenty of sleep. Stay well hydrated. Wear seatbelts. And, of course, stop to smell the roses.
Your healthcare provider will assist you in maintaining a normal blood pressure, checking your cholesterol and screening for diabetes, cancer, anemia, kidney disease, infectious diseases, obesity and depression.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an expert panel that makes recommendations for all aspects of preventive care - I would strongly encourage you visit their website at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org
and use it as a resource.
The USPSTF does recommend that men do monthly testicular self-exams and that certain higher risk populations be screened at least once for abdominal aortic aneurysms. Routine prostate cancer screening with a PSA lab test is controversial and, interestingly, not recommended by the USPSTF. Many of us still use this test in limited circumstances and I suggest you discuss this with your health care provider.
The take-away here is to schedule that all important health maintenance visit with your primary care provider today (no secret guy decoder ring required). Dr. Paul Matty is an Internal Medicine doctor with Day Kimball Medical Group in Dayville.