We’re currently in November, also known as Movember. Movember is a month to remember and raise funds for men’s health. It focuses in particular on issues that are most relevant to men’s health such as prostate health and mental health.
Men tend to be less-than-proactive when it comes to issues surrounding their health, and perhaps less willing to seek help when they may need it.
For example, Cleveland Clinic surveyed more than 500 men between the ages of 18 to 70 in the U.S. and found that only three in five men get a yearly physical. Just over 40% said they go to the doctor only when they fear something is seriously wrong.
More than 53% of men surveyed by the Cleveland Clinic said they don’t talk about their health, and 19% said they only go to the doctor so their partner will stop nagging them.
It’s important for men to get more comfortable talking about their health and be more proactive about seeking care not just when there’s an issue, but to maintain their health as well.
Ways for Men to Be Proactive About Their Health
In honor of Movember, the following are some tips to be more proactive with their health and health care.
Find a Primary Care Doctor You Like and Trust
Your primary care doctor is somewhat like a gatekeeper to other areas of health care you may need. They are also your first point of reference for questions and concerns, and they can broadly screen you for a wide variety of issues.
Too many people don’t have a primary care doctor at all, and that can make it more challenging to identify potential issues early on and also to get access to specialized care and treatment.
As a man, one of the best ways to take charge of your health is by finding a primary care doctor and one that you like and trust. This will help you be more honest and willing to discuss symptoms you may be having. It may even take a few doctors before you find someone you’re comfortable with, but doing so can be valuable for your long-term health.
The best time to visit your doctor is when you are well, and then that gives your doctor a baseline to have a better understanding when something might be going wrong or headed down a path requiring treatment.
Get the Right Screening Tests
There are certain screening tests that are particularly important for men. Again, your primary care doctor can help guide you in the appropriate direction with these, but you should have some knowledge about screening that’s relevant to you as well.
For example, prostate cancer is a health concern specific to men. Your physician can do a digital rectal exam, but there is also a blood screening test called a prostate-specific antigen blood test or PSA. For average-risk men, this screening starts at 50, and for high-risk men, it starts at 40.
Colorectal cancer is a highly treatable cancer, but it’s also the second-most common cause of cancer deaths in large part because it isn’t detected early on. Men who are at average risk should start screenings when they’re 50, but if you have it in your family, you might start colonoscopies earlier.
Other screenings relevant to men’s health include testicular cancer, skin cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Even for men who are willing to take care of their physical health proactively, they may be much less willing to talk about their mental health and get the appropriate treatment for that. Mental health has a big impact on physical health and quality of life.
You can speak with your primary care doctor not just about physical issues you’re experiencing but symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and they can point you in the direction of resources for that as well.
Anytime you’re experiencing out of the ordinary for you, speak up to a healthcare professional. This could include physical symptoms, changes in mood, changes in sleep habits, or anything that you feel isn’t right for you.
Men may be programmed to avoid talking about health, but it’s important, and Movember can serve as a good reminder of that. Start by educating yourself about health issues that may be more likely to affect you and then find a good primary care doctor who you feel comfortable sharing intimate details of your life with to be more proactive.