Seven health screenings every man should get, and when

Seven health screenings every man should get, and when

If you aren’t feeling sick, why would you bother going to a doctor? This is a question that men often ask themselves, and the answer might surprise many guys.

Health screenings, or preventive checkups, can detect diseases before they show symptoms and when treatments are more effective. Over half of American men skip their recommended annual physical exams, and this becomes more and more risky as you get older.

Certain genetic and lifestyle risk factors make specific screenings more important for some men than others, but the seven listed below apply to all males and should be done regularly to support a long and healthy life. After all, the last thing you want to hear from your doctor is, “You could have avoided this if you’d come in sooner.”

  1. Blood pressure screening: High blood pressure is all too common among American men, and uncontrolled blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Starting around age 20, men should begin getting their blood pressure checked at least every other year. If your blood pressure is high due to genetics, stress, or other factors, it’s smart to have it checked more often. Men over the age of 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least annually.
  2. Cholesterol screening: High cholesterol also is a big problem among men, so guys over the age of 20 should start having their fasting lipoprotein profile checked every 4-6 years. This medical test checks your levels of good (HDL) cholesterol and bad (LDL) cholesterol to determine whether you face an increased risk of heart disease. This should be done at least every five years for men over the age of 40 and more often if you have chronically high cholesterol levels.
  3. Sexually transmitted disease screening: As soon as a man becomes sexually active, it is a wise idea to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many STDs go unnoticed for years, even after being in a monogamous relationship or going without sex for a long time. This screening is highly recommended for young men in their teens and 20s and for men of any age who’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner who has an unknown sexual past. Also, many doctors recommend getting tested for HIV regularly, depending on your sexual activity level and number of partners.
  4. Diabetes screening: By checking your blood glucose (sugar) levels, a physician can determine your risk of developing diabetes, which can lead to heart disease and many other serious medical problems if left untreated. Starting at age 45, men should be tested for diabetes at least every three years and more often for those who are overweight or have a family history of diabetes. Young men who are overweight should start getting diabetes screenings by their mid-20s and commit to making lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of this disease.
  5. Prostate cancer screening: Prostate cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, but treatment is far more effective when detected early. Most men should get their first prostate screening at the age of 50. However, African American men and those with a history of prostate cancer in their close family may want to get tested starting in their mid-40s. Some doctors recommend having regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, so be sure to discuss this particular screening with your doctor.
  6. Colon cancer screening: Colon cancer is another deadly cancer for men, and the recommended age to start this screening is 50. Men with a family history of colon cancer should get screened sooner, as should younger men with a history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease. Men should continue getting this screening until about age 75.
  7. Osteoporosis screening: Both men and women face a greater risk for osteoporosis (brittle bones) as they age, so it’s a good idea to get an osteoporosis screening starting at age 50. This is especially important for men who have used steroids for years or suffered a bone fracture after age of 50, as well as those with a low body weight or family history of osteoporosis.

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